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Decatur police officer Marquette charged with murder in death of Perkins

DECATUR — Decatur police officer Mac Bailey Marquette has been charged with murder in the shooting death of Stephen Perkins shortly after midnight Sept. 29.

With supporters of Perkins outside wearing shirts emblazoned with his photo and name, and with his wife Catrela Perkins flanked near the podium inside, Morgan County District Attorney Steve Anderson announced the decision at a press conference Friday morning.

Marquette, 23, was one of four officers disciplined in the wake of the incident in which Perkins was shot outside his house in the middle of the night following an altercation he had with a tow driver trying to repossess a vehicle.

Anderson didn’t elaborate on why Marquette was the lone officer charged or whether or not further charges involving Marquette or the other officers would be forthcoming. Anderson declined to talk specifics in the case, other than confirming that the charged officer has been arrested.

An 18-member grand jury unanimously voted for the murder charge. After Marquette’s arrest, bail was set at $30,000. It was not clear if he had posted that bond, but Anderson said, “I’ve heard he’s bonded out.”

The grand jury was described as “broad” and included Morgan County residents ranging in age from 30-78 with a mixture of men and women, Black and white. Marquette is white, Perkins was Black.

Perkins had a confrontation with the tow truck driver around 1:30 a.m. Sept. 29. The driver left, but returned with police. Perkins reportedly went back outside to investigate when he heard noises, where he was fatally shot.

Police released conflicting stories about the incident with some details later retracted. Perkins’ family, and lawyer, later claimed the officers were lying in wait and staged an ambush.

In the wake of the shooting, Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling announced that three of the four officers were fired and a fourth was suspended. They are Marquette, Christopher Mukadam, Joey Williams and Sgt. Vance Summers. The city has not specified which three officers were fired and which one was suspended.

All four appealed that discipline and have hearings scheduled for the end of this month.

The city turned the evidence and the criminal investigation over to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, as per procedure.

Marquette was charged with murder as opposed to felony murder.

“The difference in between murder and felony murder is … I’ll just put it in a hypothetical,” Anderson said. “Let’s say you, hypothetically, you’ve got a group of three people who decide that they’re going to go commit a robbery, and when one of them is armed with a pistol, and so they make their way to the victim and the one that’s armed with a pistol, and in the course of the robbery shoots the victim and kills that person, (that other person) has committed capital murder. 

“Arguably the others have, too. But, the more generic charge, and that would be felony murder, even though they didn’t pull the trigger, then they could be charged with felony murder. For that to happen, you’ve got to have another felony to have been committed. Alright. There was no evidence that another felony was being committed when Mr. Perkins was shot.”

Anderson said he has offered to share body cam footage from the shooting with the victims’ family, but will not release it for public viewing at this time.

“This is my stance on the video and releasing it to the public,” Anderson said. “You all have seen the door camera footage that appeared on social media, and as a result of posting the door camera footage, you had untruths, half truths, speculations, innuendo, rumors, and you know, it just goes on and on. 

“And so that evidence, while it is still good evidence, is tainted with opinions. It also taints a jury pool because if a jury has seen evidence outside the courtroom that is eventually gonna come in the courtroom, then we have to make sure that they can set whatever they’ve heard or thought about that evidence aside, and some of them can’t. So if I released the body cam footage, I would be contributing to that, and I’m not gonna do that.” 

Talk immediately shifted forward to possibilities the trial could be moved out of Decatur, where the incident caused community upheaval and protests, including a march to city hall and blocking traffic on the Tennessee River bridge.

Anderson said any change of venue request would be up to defense attorneys.

“We’ll address that issue if or when that happens,” he said.

 

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