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Judge rules that Keel must stand trial

Jackson County Circuit Judge John Graham, recently ruled that Tammy Keel, charged with the March 15, 2016 murder of her husband, Rickey Keel, will stand trial.

Keel filed a motion to dismiss her case in July 2016 pursuant to self defense. A two day hearing was held on the motion in January, 2017.

Throughout the hearing several witnesses were called and numerous exhibits were received into evidence.

Keel admitted shooting her husband with a .22 pistol, that belonged to her.

Keel testified that her relationship with her husband started off well but eventually turned into a relationship where he would hit her and try to control her. She testified that this initially began as three to four times a year and later turned into two times a week.

In April 2015, Keel testified that she borrowed money and filed for divorce. She then went to Indiana to live with family and would come to Scottsboro once a month for doctor appointments. According to a criminal report filed by Keel in April, “We had been talking about divorce and he got mad, pushed me and knocked me down, twisted my right hand. Told me if he went to jail his buddies would take care of me. He said several times that he would kill me before I would spend a dime of any divorce settlement.”

Keel also testified that in September and October, 2015 of 2015 she received bruises from her husband on her legs, she also stated that her husband would wrap her ankles in electric fence wire and would slam her wrists in the door and stomp on her legs and feet when she would fall.

 Keel testified that during the final fight, as he had before, her husband said ‘that he would kill her, put her in a hole’ and that she ‘will not live to see a dime of retirement’.” She stated that following the March, 2016 she was left with a twisted knee, that she was bruised, scared, marked and otherwise wounded. Photographs and other evidence was introduced to support her testimony. A jail nurse report also noted many of these injuries. Keel also testified that during the period of the argument in March, her husband left the home twice.

On cross examination, District Attorney Jason Pierce reiterated Keel’s testimony that Mr. Keel left the home twice during this period. That Keel had her cell phone, car keys and a car and could have left the home if she had chosen to do so.

Regarding a video date stamped April 12, 2015 the court wrote, “Regardless of when it (video) was made, it does not provide much probative evidence in the court’s decision today. The court believes, however, that the video shows the Defendant attempting to goad Mr. Keel into an argument and shows her provoking him over and over. However, what the video does not show is just as intriguing to the court. It does not show Mr. Keel taking the bait. To be sure, he engages in argument with her on the video, but there is no fight. He drinks more than one beer on the video and Mrs. Keel says he ‘eats’ Loratab pills on the video.” It goes on to say, “Even after realizing the camera is recording his every move and statement, Rickey Keel still does not become the violent and dangerous man portrayed by Mrs. Keel.”

The order further states, “The standard of proof of which the court must apply in this instance is that quoted hereinabove from Ala. Code § 13A-3-23(d)(2): The defendant must show by a preponderance of the evidence that she is immune from criminal prosecution.” “ Much of the evidence in this case favors Mrs. Keel’s position and favors dismissal. However, the video and the emergency 9-1-1 call, both of which originated wit the Defendant herself, are the strongest evidence this court saw against Mrs. Keel. They balance the scales of justice and tip those scales against her. Prior to seeing and hearing these two items of evidence, this court was fully prepared to grant the Defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictment. But the court changed its mind after these two items of evidence were admitted.”

Two pieces of self serving evidence are just bits of a great puzzle which the court is asked to solve. Though they be little, they are fierce in their significance and together they are sufficient to cause this court to render a decision today against Tammy Keel. But to be sure, using the required preponderance of the evidence standard mandated by law, the court’s decision today is made by the very narrowest of thin margins.”

Graham’s order goes on to say that this matter shall be set for trial by jury.


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