Terry Mikel Capital Murder Trial Ends Abruptly With Guilty Plea
Mikel Stand Your Ground Defense Crumbles With Surprise Guilty Plea By Defendant
A full jury, capital murder trial convened today inside the sizeable 3rd-floor courtroom of the Cullman County Courthouse.
Poised to hear the proceeding was the Honorable 32nd Circuit Judge Gregory A. Nicholas.
The case involved the defendant TERRY LYNN MIKEL.
Court and law enforcement records indicate Mikel admitted that he shot and killed his estranged wife ANGELA ANNETTE MIKEL in late July of 2013.
Mikel’s attorney of record at the time – William C. Porter – argued that Mikel was protected by Alabama’s ‘stand your ground’ law.
Porter was quoted by WVTM 13 as saying:
“There is no case law that says a weapon has to be present, and she was reaching across the seat or under the seat when one of the shots was fired.”
Porter claimed his client should never have been jailed in the first place:
“Before he was ever incarcerated, arrested, handcuffed, put in a police car, there should’ve been a probable cause investigation by the police that the ‘stand your ground’ law was not applicable.”
Porter believed Mikel was wrongfully incarcerated in the Cullman County Detention Center.
Although Mikel had a $75,000 cash bond available to him, it was never exercised.
After four years and 4+ months, Mikel finally got his day in court this morning with Micheal W. Fuller and Steven C. Smith acting as his legal defense team.
District Attorney C. Wilson Blaylock and Assistant DA Jeff Roberts represented the State of Alabama for the prosecution.
The attorneys for both sides spent the morning interviewing a large pool of prospective jurors with the end goal of winnowing the field down to 14 permanent jurors to decide the guilt or innocence of Mr. Mikel.
After a lunch break, Judge Nicholas informed the well-fed jurors that there would be an unexpected recess. The potential jurors were left in the courtroom while a flurry of activity occurred in the halls and side rooms of the Courthouse’s 3rd floor.
Unknown to the jurors, a last-minute, surprise plea deal was being negotiated by the District Attorney’s Office and the attorneys for the defense.
Apparently, the defendant suddenly realized over the lunch break the stark profundity of the pending trial.
Rotting in a state prison without the chance of parole – following a potential guilty verdict delivered by the jury – weighed heavily on this chain belted, ankle and wrist manacled man.
Court and law enforcement records indicate Mikel and his defense team had an uphill battle in a trial.
In the original complaint filed with the Magistrate of the Court by Philip Bray of the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office, there was probable cause for believing TERRY LYYN MIKEL did intentionally cause the death of ANGELA ANNETTE MIKEL.
The complaint outlines how a 911 call led to the discovery of Angela Mikel’s deceased body in a 1995 Black Jeep Cherokee parked behind a single-wide trailer along the 1900 block of County Road 38.
An examination of Mrs. Mikel’s remains indicated she had been shot multiple times in the head and shoulders with a small caliber firearm.
Curiously, the passenger side window of the truck was broken; there was no corresponding broken glass on the ground under the window. This evidence led investigators to suspect the window damag occurred at a different location.
Investigators Justin Tyus and Randy Frost quickly initiated a search for Mr. Mikel at a nearby location on County Road 38. They did not find Terry Mikel, but they did run across broken glass, and a .22 caliber bullet. That physical evidence was quickly collected for use in this trial.
Two hours later, personnel with the Hanceville Police Department received credible information that Mr. Mickel and his stepson, Charles Burks, had been observed walking along County Road 520.
As law enforcement approached, the pair fled on foot into an adjacent wooded area.
This action triggered a full manhunt that ended with the Alabama State Trooper Aviation Unit pinpointing their location using infrared radar.
While in custody and after being provided their rights, Mr. Terry offered a spontaneous statement:
“I was just protecting myself; she said she had a .357.”
That statement was the basis for the original ‘stand your ground’ defense.
image by WVTM 13
Meanwhile, with anxious jurors waiting patiently in the large courtroom around 2:15 pm today, Judge Nicholas convened a proceeding in the smaller 3rd-floor courtroom where Terry Lynn Mikel was expected to change his initial ‘not guilty’ plea to ‘guilty.’
After diligently informing Mikel of the consequences a guilty plea, Judge Nicholas fished Mikel on a requisite factual basis for a guilty verdict.
The Judge pressed Mikel to be clear about his intentions:
“Yes, or no, Mr. Mikel. Did you intentionally kill your wife?”
The defendant was visibly emotional. He was unable to render his own plea definitively. Judge Nicholas terminated Mikel’s botched guilty plea attempt.
It appeared at this point as if the actual trial would soon proceed with the selection of jurors imminent.
After a short recess, the momentum turned again with Mikel’s council settling their client’s nerves and asking the Judge for another attempt at a guilty plea. Judge Nicholas agreed.
Finally, with the assistance of his attorney Steven C. Smith, Mr. Mikel was able to provide the Judge a factual, uninfluenced, unequivocal statement of guilt in the murder of his wife.
With that, Judge Nicholas sentenced Mikel to 32 years in an Alabama correctional facility for the murder charge facing the defendant.
Mikel then had a second Capital Murder charge (for shooting into a vehicle) dismissed by the Judge
Mikel will also owe $1,326.39 in restitution, and a laundry list of other fees and court costs.
The 32-year sentence was the duration agreed upon in a plea agreement sought by the District Attorney’s Office in consultation with the family of Angel Mikel.
Angela Mikel’s mother, Mrs. Armstong, was given the opportunity to speak before the open courtroom after the admission of guilt … with Mr. Mikel present. In demonstrable anguish and with uncontrollable tears, speaking directly at Terry Mikel, she said:
“I can never forgive you for this … no matter what!”
Judge Nicholas then returned to the large courtroom and informed the prospective jurors that their services would no longer be needed and that the trail would not continue due to the abrupt guilty plea.
Immediately after the proceedings concluded, Micheal W. Fuller and Steven C. Smith had this joint statement:
“Every trial involves a great deal of risk. In this case with Mr. Terry Mikel, he potentially faced everything from a jury rendered ‘not guilty’ verdict to life in prison without parole. The risk of a lifetime in prison was not a risk Mr. Mikel wanted to subject himself to.
The situation with all the parties in this incident is unquestionably tragic.”
We spoke with District Attorney C. Wilson Blaylock soon after as well:
“Following the wishes of the family of the victim, we attempted to arrive at a resolution that was suitable. With this admission of guilt of murder from Mr. Mikel and his lengthy incarceration, we hope this offers some sense of closure and respite to the family members.”
Based upon the past track record of the Alabama Department of Correction, TERRY LYNN MIKEL will likely serve at least 80 percent of his sentence (25 years).
Cullman County Courthouse
Terry Mikel Capital Murder Trial Ends Abruptly With Guilty Plea
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