Facebook Initiated Vehicle Swap Goes Bad
Facebook Initiated Vehicle Swap Goes Bad
Transaction Lands Cody Nathaniel Beavers In Jury Trial & Jail
It is Criminal Trial Week in the 32nd Judicial Circuit.
On Monday, Presiding 32nd Judicial Circuit, the Honorable Judge Gregory A. Nicholas conducted a 12-person jury trial in the case of the STATE OF ALABAMA versus CODY NATHANIEL BEAVERS.
Beavers was arrested on June 20, 2017, and indicted by a Cullman County Grand Jury on October 10, 2017.
The indictment describes Beavers as ‘did knowingly obtain by deception, control over a motor vehicle (a black 2002 Ford Mustang GT)’. It further defines COREY JAMES TILLMAN as the owner of the car. The criminal charge rendered was ‘THEFT in the 1st Degree’ alleging Beavers deprived Tillman of the Mustang in violation of Title 13A-8-3(b) of the CODE OF ALABAMA.
The trial took place in the large, 3rd-floor Courtroom at the Cullman County Courthouse. In addition to Judge Nicholas presiding, Scott Graham acted as Court Reporter.
Cullman County Sheriff’s Office Deputy David Stallings was the law enforcement presence during the trial.
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Roberts led a three-person prosecution team for the State of Alabama on behalf of the victim, Corey James Tillman. Also on the team were Assistant DA, Jeremy Cline, and Pre-Trial Coordinator, Debra Ball.
Defendant Cody Nathaniel Beavers was represented by prominent Cullman Criminal Defense Attorney, Melvin Hasting.
The jury of 9 men and 4 women (1 of those an alternate) were selected Monday morning by both legal teams.
Beginning at 1:05 pm Monday, the jury of Beaver’s peers took in a thorough education of their duties from Judge Nicholas before Roberts began his opening statement to that body.
Assistant DA Roberts defined his understanding of the facts of the case that he believed would come out during the trial:
• Beavers was presenting a Ford F150 truck as ‘for sale’ on Facebook.
• Tillman was presenting a the 2002 Ford Mustang (mentioned above) as ‘for sale’ on Facebook.
• Beavers and Tillman connected on Facebook and agreed to meet in the parking lot of Walmart North (Highway 157 in the City of Cullman).
• Upon meeting and jointly assessing the vehicles, the two parties mutually agreed to a SWAP the F150 for the Mustang. It was to be a ‘straight swap’ with no money changing hands.
• Tillman gave the keys to the Mustang to Beavers along with a clear title to the vehicle.
• Beavers gave the keys to the F150 to Tillman – HOWEVER – he did not have the Title on his person. Beavers promised to deliver said title to Tillman within 24 hours.
• Beavers never delivered the title and effectively ‘disappeared’ with Tillman’s Mustang.
• Tillman unsuccessfully pursued Beavers for almost 2 months before he contacted the Cullman Police Department to file a report stating Beavers effectively stole his Mustang.
Attorney Roberts went on to present to the jury that the F150 did NOT have a clear title at the time of the ‘SWAP’ as the car was encumbered by a vehicle lien as security for a loan through TitleMax of Cullman.
Roberts assertion was that Beavers consciously entered into the Facebook initiated vehicle swap knowing he did not have clear title to the Mustang and thus – by deception – committed THEFT in the 1st Degree against Tillman.
In Attorney Melvin Hasting’s opening statement, he debunked Roberts portrayal of the incident attempting to bring considerable doubt into the jury’s mind about the facts of the case including the Mustang title not being in Tillman’s name, neither party having a Bill of Sale on the vehicles in question (thus, impugning the credibility of ownership), and no registered titles to factually document the veracity of the theft charge.
During the evidentiary presentation portion of the trial, the supporting evidence for the above opening statements from Roberts and Hasting was brought forward. This evidence included:
• Testimony from Colin Karich of TileMax documenting the title loan and accompanying documents taken out by Beavers on the F150.
• Testimony from Cullman Police investigator Sergeant Adam Clark who – under oath – confirmed Beavers told him he did, in fact, participate in the SWAP with Tillman.
Assistant DA Roberts made short work of his Closing Statement, affirming much of the above and appealing to the 12 jurors use of common sense in rendering a verdict.
Roberts conclusion was simply: ‘Beavers entered into the SWAP transaction knowingly fleecing Tillman by deception, and committing the crime of theft in regards to the Mustang.’
Melvin Hasting – in his closing argument – made a thorough argument about the profound lack of facts presented by the prosecution and less than thorough police investigation into the ownership of each vehicle involved while indicting Tillman on ‘not even having the title of the F150 registered in his name’.
At that point, the State rested its case with Hasting affirming. Judge Nicholas then gave final instructions to the jury, and off they went to deliberate a verdict. The entire proceeding was of near-record brevity for a jury trial clocking in at only 1 hour and 25 minutes from start to finish.
This 12-member Cullman County juror made up their mind rapidly. They arrived at a GUILTY verdict for Beavers – presented to the open courtroom by Foreperson Danny J. Bales – in only 11 minutes.
The jury was polled afterward confirming a unanimous decision.
Stallings then cuffed Beavers who was escorted to the Cullman County Detention Center where he will reside without release until an August 14, 2018 sentencing hearing.
Here is the ORDER UPON RETURN OF VERDICT from the Honorable Circuit Judge Gregory A. Nicholas: