Marvin Dewayne Lyles, 35, pleaded guilty before Walker County Circuit Judge Hoyt Elliott to the shooting death of Kirk Johnson, which happened on July 17, 2004 in the middle of Rose Street in Oakman.
Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair said he and his staff were preparing late Thursday afternoon for Lyles’ trial, which was set to begin Monday, when they were notified Lyles was interested in accepting a plea deal.
“We heard the defendant and his mother wanted to talk, and we had a hearing in Judge Elliott’s courtroom,” Adair said. “He admitted to the murder and changed his plea from not guilty to guilty.”
Adair said when the shooting occurred in 2004 that investigators from the Walker County Sheriff’s Office and the Walker County District Attorney’s Office arrived on the scene shortly after the incident. Adair said eye witnesses told police the two men were arguing in the middle of the street when Lyles shot Johnson in the head at close range. According to witness statements in the police report, the men were arguing over a beer.
“It was alleged to have been over a beer,” Adair said. “We think there were some other arguments or talking between the two men before this incident, but the witnesses on the scene said this happened over a beer. Kirk and some of his friends were in the yard, having a party, when Lyles came over and helped himself to a beer. Kirk was upset that he helped himself without paying for any of it, according to the statements law enforcement took at the scene.”
When police arrived after the shooting, Adair said Lyles was nowhere to be found.
“He wasn’t there, and his whereabouts were unknown for several years,” Adair said.
The DA’s Office received information in 2008 that Lyles had left Alabama and assumed a new identity in California. Lyles lived in Marysville, Calif., under the name Analdrea Eugene Smith. Adair said Lyles had stolen the identity from a Birmingham man and had a fake driver’s license, social security card and at least two other forms of identification. Lyles was able to secure a job with a large lumber company during his time in California, Adair said. Lyles was even arrested on a marijuana possession charge at one point during his time in California without California police realizing that he was living under a stolen identity.
“He was living as a totally different person, and he had gotten away with it for quite a while,” Adair said. “But the District Attorney’s Office started receiving tips that he would come back to Walker County occasionally.”
Police were able to track down Lyles during a return trip to Walker County on Dec. 27, 2008 when he was arrested at the Warrior River Motel and charged with murder. A Walker County grand jury indicted Lyles for Johnson’s murder in November 2010.
Adair said after Lyles’ arrest that authorities were able to find the man who’s identity he had stolen.
“He had no idea that someone had been using his name,” Adair said. “He said the only odd thing was that he had received some correspondence from the company that Lyles worked for in California. He just thought it was a mistake and didn’t think much about it.”
Adair said his office had been in contact with Johnson’s mother since the plea deal was made.
“She was grateful and satisfied to have some justice after so many years,” Adair said.
Both families were happy to receive closure from the sentencing, Adair said.
“Both families needed it to end,” he said. “Justice has been served by this sentenced. The mothers of both these young men involved are fine people. I’m happy they can now move forward.”