Jury recommends life in prison for killer of Anniston policeman - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Jury recommends life in prison for killer of Anniston police officer

Posted: Updated:
OPELIKA - AL -

A Lee County jury recommended life in prison for the man they convicted of capital murder.

Eight of the 12 jurors voted for Joshua Russell to receive life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.  Four voted for the death penalty, but 10 are needed to issue that recommendation.

Russell shot Anniston police officer Justin Sollohub in the head from point blank range in August 2011 after running from the officer.  The jury deliberated for about four hours Monday before reaching the unanimous decision to find him guilty.

After a day of hearing testimony from both Sollohub's family and Russell's relatives as to whether his life should be saved or not, the jurors spent another five hours considering their recommendation of punishment.

A judge will issue the official sentence in about 60 days.

Sollohub's mother, Jeniffer Morris, asked the jury Tuesday to recommend the death penalty.  She said she was pleased with the guilty verdict.

"We had faith that justice would be served and we're in that direction," Morris said Monday.

"It's been a tough day.  It's been a real tough day but we had faith in the jury. The state did a fantastic job and I don't see where there's anything else they could have said or done for us. For Justin."

Defense attorney John Robbins claimed Russell did not intend to kill Sollohub and asked the jury to convict his client of reckless manslaughter instead of capital murder.

"Are we surprised? Probably not. It's an uphill battle when you kill a police officer," Robbins said.

"We thought the evidence really went to reckless conduct but we have to respect the jury verdict and go forward from here and hopefully we can make some headway with the sentencing phase tomorrow."

The defense had two witnesses prepared to testify Monday morning at the Lee County Justice Center, but Calhoun County district attorney Brian McVeigh objected to some of their planned testimony due to lack of certain documentation. Robbins relented and the sides proceeded to closing arguments without any defense witnesses providing testimony.

Robbins said he will have six to eight witnesses to testify on Russell's behalf during the sentencing portion of the trial, where prosecutors plan to request the death penalty.

Russell has a prior criminal record. He was sentenced in 2009 to five years in prison for four convictions for drug distribution and obstruction of justice. He received an early release after serving a little more than a year of his sentence.

Sollohub stopped Russell August 24, 2011 for an outstanding warrant and was patting him down. Russell ran away and chased the pursuing officer with a handgun stolen two weeks earlier.

"We're going to hope that we can convince the jury not to recommend the death sentence and we'll go from there," Robbins said.

Sollohub's mother declined to comment on sentencing at this time.

"We'll be here until it's over. We'll be here until the end," she said.

  • Birmingham Area NewsMore>>

  • Birmingham Mayor, Leaders applaud DNC site visit

    Birmingham Mayor, Leaders applaud DNC site visit

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 2:00 PM EDT2014-07-22 18:00:54 GMT
    Birmingham Mayor William Bell said Tuesday the site visit by the Democratic National Committee has been a success so far. A DNC team is on a two-day site visit evaluating Birmingham's capability of hostingMore >>
    Birmingham Mayor William Bell said Tuesday the site visit by the Democratic National Committee has been a success so far.More >>
  • SCLC National Convention schedule

    SCLC National Convention schedule

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:00 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:00:19 GMT
    The SCLC National Convention scheduleMore >>
    The SCLC National Convention scheduleMore >>
  • DNC's first day on Birmingham site visit

    DNC's first day on Birmingham site visit

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 8:26 AM EDT2014-07-22 12:26:14 GMT
    It's been a full day of sightseeing for a team with the Democratic National Committee.A 12-member group is touring a variety of Birmingham hotels, attractions and venues Monday as part of a two-day site visit.Birmingham is one of five cities vying to hose the Democratic National Convention in 2016. The committee is in the Magic City to see if it has the hotel and venue space to pull off the large-scale event.ABC 33/40 went alongside the team for part of its day. Members saw the Birmingham Mus...More >>
    It's been a full day of sightseeing for a team with the Democratic National Committee.A 12-member group is touring a variety of Birmingham hotels, attractions and venues Monday as part of a two-day site visit.Birmingham is one of five cities vying to hose the Democratic National Convention in 2016. The committee is in the Magic City to see if it has the hotel and venue space to pull off the large-scale event.ABC 33/40 went alongside the team for part of its day. Members saw the Birmingham Mus...More >>
  • Anniston - Gadsden Area NewsMore>>

  • Heflin police: North Carolina man arrested with over 8 pounds of marijuana

    Heflin police: North Carolina man arrested with over 8 pounds of marijuana

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 2:04 PM EDT2014-07-22 18:04:33 GMT
    A North Carolina man was arrested Monday after Heflin police found over eight pounds of marijuana in his car during a traffic stop.More >>
    A North Carolina man was arrested Monday after Heflin police found over eight pounds of marijuana in his car during a traffic stop.
    More >>
  • Body pulled from Weiss Lake identified as missing woman

    Body pulled from Weiss Lake identified as missing woman

    Monday, July 21 2014 6:00 PM EDT2014-07-21 22:00:41 GMT
    DeKalb County sheriff's officials say a body that was pulled from Weiss Lake in Leesburg has been identified as a 20-year-old woman who was recently reported missing. Sheriff Jimmy Harris says the body of Sarah Jane Ortiz of Valley Head was found in the lake by a fisherman on Friday. Harris says the woman's body was positively identified on Monday at a forensics lab in Huntsville. Harris says Ortiz was reported missing July 16 by friends and relatives after she failed to return home on July 1...More >>
    DeKalb County sheriff's officials say a body that was pulled from Weiss Lake in Leesburg has been identified as a 20-year-old woman who was recently reported missing. Sheriff Jimmy Harris says the body of Sarah Jane Ortiz of Valley Head was found in the lake by a fisherman on Friday. Harris says the woman's body was positively identified on Monday at a forensics lab in Huntsville. Harris says Ortiz was reported missing July 16 by friends and relatives after she failed to return home on July 1...More >>
  • JSU President announces retirement

    JSU President announces retirement

    Monday, July 21 2014 3:17 PM EDT2014-07-21 19:17:37 GMT
    The longtime president of Jacksonville State University says he will retire next year. Bill Meehan told trustees that he's stepping down as of June 2015. The school announced his decision on its Facebook page. The delay in Meehan's departure provides a chance for board members to name a successor. Meehan has been president since July 1, 1999. Meehan is a Jacksonville State alumnus who started working at the school as a biology instructor. He held other positions at the northeast Alabama campu...More >>
    The longtime president of Jacksonville State University says he will retire next year. Bill Meehan told trustees that he's stepping down as of June 2015. The school announced his decision on its Facebook page. The delay in Meehan's departure provides a chance for board members to name a successor. Meehan has been president since July 1, 1999. Meehan is a Jacksonville State alumnus who started working at the school as a biology instructor. He held other positions at the northeast Alabama campu...More >>
  • Tuscaloosa Area NewsMore>>

  • Warrants issued to arrest Forkland mayor

    Warrants issued to arrest Forkland mayor

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 8:24 AM EDT2014-07-22 12:24:52 GMT

    Warrants allege: Theft of Property & Tampering Govt Records

    More >>

    Warrants allege: Theft of Property & Tampering Govt Records

    More >>
  • Tuscaloosa police on the look out for a murder suspect

    Tuscaloosa police on the look out for a murder suspect

    Sunday, July 20 2014 2:21 PM EDT2014-07-20 18:21:54 GMT
    At approximately1:40 am this morning Tuscaloosa Police responded to a reported shooting in the 4700 block of East McFarland Blvd (Motel 6). When officers arrived, they found the victim, 21 year old Jamarcus Marquez Roberts in his vehicle. Roberts had crashed into the shrubs at the entrance to the motel parking lot. Roberts was treated at the scene and transported to DCH-ED, however he died from his injuries. The victim appears to have been shot one time in the chest. Investigators were able t...More >>
    At approximately1:40 am this morning Tuscaloosa Police responded to a reported shooting in the 4700 block of East McFarland Blvd (Motel 6). When officers arrived, they found the victim, 21 year old Jamarcus Marquez Roberts in his vehicle. Roberts had crashed into the shrubs at the entrance to the motel parking lot. Roberts was treated at the scene and transported to DCH-ED, however he died from his injuries. The victim appears to have been shot one time in the chest. Investigators were able t...More >>
  • Tuscaloosa Police investigating a murder on East McFarland Blvd.

    Tuscaloosa Police investigating a murder on East McFarland Blvd.

    Sunday, July 20 2014 2:09 PM EDT2014-07-20 18:09:31 GMT
    Tuscaloosa Police are investigating a murder on East McFarland Blvd. at the Motel 6.  More >>
    Tuscaloosa Police are investigating a murder on East McFarland Blvd. at the Motel 6.  More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...