Murder suspects plead guilty

By JAMES PHILLIPS
Posted 9/11/19

Three suspects in the 2016 murder of a Dora man have pled guilty to their roles in that crime.Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair said Monday was set to begin the murder trial of Joshua Adam …

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Murder suspects plead guilty

Posted

Three suspects in the 2016 murder of a Dora man have pled guilty to their roles in that crime.

Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair said Monday was set to begin the murder trial of Joshua Adam Reese, who was the reported gunman in the February 2016 death of Nicholas Hawkins. 

“I received a call early on Saturday morning from the family, asking us to consider a plea deal,” Adair said. “I’ll be honest and say that I really didn’t want to do it, but I try to consider the family’s feelings in these situations.”

Pam Hawkins, the grandmother of Nicholas Hawkins, said the family wanted to avoid the trial if possible.

“It was the best thing for our family to do this, to reach a closure and move on with our lives,” she said. “The whole process would have been Nick dying again, being murdered all over again.”

Hawkins’ body was found inside a duffle bag,wrapped in a blue, electric blanket in a wooded area off KD Byrd Station Road in February 2016. He was 19 years old. Reese was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison for Hawkins’ murder. 

“Before it was over, my husband and I both had compassion for Adam, because his life is over too,” Pam Hawkins said.

Adair said evidence would have shown at trial that Reese shot Hawkins twice with a 12-gauge shotgun before bashing him multiple times in the head with the same gun. The blows were hard enough that it broke the bottom half of the gun, according to Adair.

Cory Conner and Danny Jarvis admitted in court on Tuesday to being with Reese when he committed the murder. They agreed to plea deals on Tuesday and were sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of abuse of a corpse and hindering prosecution. All three of the plea deals were accepted by Circuit Judge Hoyt Elliott. 

Adair said testimony in trial would have shown the two men were with Reese and Hawkins throughout the day of the murder.

“They were all four getting high together all day, and then they were riding around in Hawkins’ car with Reese driving and those two in the back seat,” Adair said.

The two men told investigators that Reese stopped at one location, went inside the home and came back with the blue, electric blanket. Adair said they admitted to a second stop, which was an abandoned house where Reese got out of the car and went into the abandoned home for a short time. When he came back, the two told investigators that he forced Hawkins out of the car. As Hawkins ran, the co-defendants said Reese shot the victim twice before beating his lifeless body with the gun. The two admitted to helping Reese wrap the body in the blanket, put Hawkins in the trunk of his own car and then dump it in a separate area and placed garbage over the top of the body.

“This was all about what happens with people who are battling addiction,” Adair said. “The national media saw this one way. This case wasn’t that way. Reese and Hawkins had a relationship. I can’t go into details about that relationship, but they had known each other for a long time.”

In a preliminary hearing in 2016, testimony suggested Hawkins and Reese were possibly in a romantic relationship. It was also claimed that Reese had a relationship with Hawkins’ mother, Daphne Webb.

Adair said his office takes possible hate crimes seriously, despite Alabama not having hate crime laws.

“There were personal issues between Nick and Adam,” Adair said. “This was not in my opinion how the national media portrayed it to be. I wish Alabama had some hate law legislation. I wish we did, but we don’t. In this case, that is not what led to this.”

Pam Hawkins said her grandson would forgive the defendants if he was still alive.

“This is about addiction. Nick did some wrong things, but we loved him dearly,” Pam Hawkins said. “I know that if he could be here today he would forgive all these people, because that is how Nick’s heart was.”