Mistrial Declared In Trial Of Billings Murder Suspect Donnie Stallworth
March 4, 2011
A mistrial was declared late Thursday night in the trial of Billings murder suspect Donnie Stallworth, Jr. after almost nine hours of deliberation.
The Brewton native was one of seven people charged in the execution-style murders of Byrd and Melanie Billings in July 2009 . Leonard Patrick Gonzalez, Jr. received the death penalty last month for gunning down the Beulah couple as several of their special-needs children watched.
Stallworth, a former U.S. Air Force staff sergeant, was accused of being in the home at time of the murders, armed with a gun. He was charged with two counts of first degree murder.
The accusations came from two co-defendants, 16-year old Rakeem Florence and 21-year old Fredrick Thorton. Both pleaded not contest to a lessor second degree murder charge in exchange for their testimony.
The jury began deliberations just before 2 p.m. Thursday. The hung jury was summoned back to the Escambia County courtroom and released by Judge Nick Geeker just before 11 p.m. Geeker scheduled a retrial for Stallworth, 29, to begin on April 25.
Sometime after the July 9, 2009, murders, Stallworth fled to his hometown of Brewton, Ala., where he turned himself in at the Escambia County Detention Center. At the time of the murders, Stallworth was assigned to the 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Hurlburt Field. Much of his family still residents in Brewton.