Three teens accused of killing five men in an Ensley home January 29 appeared in court today for a preliminary hearing. The hearing was originally scheduled for March, but was postponed by Judge Stephen Wallace.
Reginald Mims, 16, Rashad Stoves, 17, and Artavius Underwood, 16, are charged with five counts of capital murder each in the shooting deaths of Demetrius Sanford, 19, Jeffery Davis Jr., 23, Ronnie James Render, 42, Jonathan Sanchez, 23, and Charles "C.J." Render, 21.
In a courtroom filled with family of the victims and suspects, today's hearing revealed details to the public for the first time. Preliminary hearings typically last one hour but with so much information to be presented to the court, this hearing lasted all day.
Birmingham Police said today that they believe the three teenage suspects also carried out an armed robbery about three hours before the murders just five blocks away. This morning's testimony centered on that incident.
This afternoon testimony focused on the Avenue S killings. Lead investigator Jeffery Still said that when authorities arrived at the house, they found Sanford dead, in a lower room. Sanchez, the Renders and Davis were all found in an upstairs bedroom, naked. C.J. Render suffered the most gunshot wounds with 12 in all.
Still also said two men made statements to police that they arrived at the Avenue S home with one of the victims earlier that morning. One man said he went to the door of the house and was confronted by Rashad Stoves at gunpoint. He fled the house on foot. The second man said that he was pulled from the car they arrived in by Reginald Mims and robbed at gunpoint.
One of the victims' loved ones said outside the court that today was a challenge for her and other family members.
"We have heard some info that we haven't heard before. It really make it hard and open up wounds you're trying to heal and get over."
Based on today, it does appear that robbery is main motive and investigators believe that three different guns were used in the shootings. It's still unclear who was the main shooter.
Judge Wallace bound the case over to the grand jury at the end of today. The grand jury will review evidence in the case and decide if the Mims, Underwood and Stoves should be indicted. If they are, the case will go to trial.
Stay tuned to MyFoxAl.com as this story develops.
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