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New charges filed against suspect in attempted murder
By Seth Burkett
The Decatur Daily


A Vinemont man accused of slashing another man’s throat and leaving him for dead on a Morgan County roadside faces new charges — in Cullman County — of setting fire to his neighbors’ home to cover up a burglary, authorities said Tuesday.

Jeremy Wayne West, 18, was out of Morgan County Jail on $30,000 bail after his arrest in April on a charge of attempted murder in the March 28 cutting of Justin Sullivan, 22, of Eva. The incident occurred on Maddux Road, just north of the Cullman County line, authorities said.

The Cullman County Sheriff’s Department said West became a suspect in the Nov. 15 arson after he was seen the following Saturday at Lacon Trade Day selling weapons and other property believed to have been taken during the burglary.

Chief Deputy Max Bartlett said the state fire marshal investigated and determined the fire in the wooden house at 475 Cullman County 1437 in Vinemont was intentionally set.

Providence firefighters said the house sustained heavy damage. The residents were not home at the time of the fire but arrived after the blaze was out, Bartlett said.

“After doing a walk-through of the residence, they could tell several items were missing, several firearms and some TVs,” he said.

Antiques collected by the homeowner were among the property damaged by the blaze.

“We were very determined to solve this case because the victims are elderly people and they had recently had their insurance policy on their home canceled,” Bartlett said. “It just breaks your heart that they lost all their possessions.”

Reports of someone selling guns matching the description of the stolen ones led investigators to Lacon Trade Day, where they found “several witnesses who had seen the transactions” and were able to provide information that helped identify West as the suspect, Bartlett said.

Officers found West on Nov. 19 near his home, directly across the road from the victims’ home, Bartlett said.

West was initially arrested on a charge of second-degree receiving stolen property, but further investigation led to additional charges of second-degree arson and third-degree burglary. He was being held Monday in the Cullman County Detention Center in lieu of $70,000 bail.

Investigators recovered some of the firearms and other stolen property, Bartlett said.

The investigation is ongoing, and additional arrests may be made. Bartlett encouraged anyone with information about the case to call him at 256-735-2707.

It was unclear whether Morgan County authorities would seek revocation of West’s bail on the attempted murder charge. The Morgan County District Attorney’s Office did not return a call seeking comment.

Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin said deputies were called to a home on Maddux Road near Blevins Road shortly before 11 p.m. the night of the cutting after Sullivan banged on the door seeking help from the residents.

Investigators said West and Sullivan were acquaintances and had been riding together in a vehicle that night but had gotten out before the alleged attack took place.

Sgt. Terry Kelly of the Criminal Investigations Division said he believes the men had a disagreement “over a drug deal, over some pills.”

Kelly described the wound as “pretty much ear to ear.”

Sullivan lost a lot of blood, authorities said.

A medical helicopter took him to Huntsville Hospital, where he underwent surgery and was released.

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