Sheriff's Office: Capital murder defendants' plan to escape foiled




  • In US
  • 2022-07-29 12:39:00Z
  • By The Decatur Daily, Ala.

Jul. 29-A Morgan County Jail inmate facing six counts of capital murder received assistance from another capital murder defendant in his effort to escape, according to the Sheriff's Office, and both were charged Wednesday for the attempt.

John Michael Legg, 21, was charged with second-degree attempting to escape after allegedly donning a trusty uniform and walking through the jail complex. Mashaud Tyliek Lewis, 22, is charged with first-degree permitting/facilitating escape.

According to the Sheriff's Office, the jail was placed on lockdown when the escape effort was discovered.

Legg, of Hartselle, is a co-defendant in seven shooting deaths at a drug house at 522 Talucah Road in Valhermoso Springs on June 4, 2020. Lewis is jailed on a capital murder charge related to the shooting death of Chester Lee Jordan, 59, of Decatur, on May 9, 2021, at a Southwest Decatur apartment complex, in what authorities called a drug-related crime.

"On June 26, Legg took a trusty uniform from another inmate and attempted to use it to move throughout the building and Lewis assisted," said Sheriff's Office spokesman Mike Swafford. "The incident was investigated, and warrants were obtained."

Swafford said the uniform was taken from the trusty's bunk and the trusty was not involved in the scheme.

He said neither of the inmates left the building. "The plan was quickly discovered by jail staff," Swafford said.

Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson lauded the jail staff for thwarting the attempt.

"Well, if I were either one of (the defendants), I wouldn't want to face these charges either. I'm just glad that their efforts to escape custody failed before it turned into a very dangerous situation," Anderson said.

Anderson said his office plans to seek the death penalty against Legg and co-defendant Frederic Allen Rogers, 24, both of Hartselle, for their alleged roles in the worst mass killing in the county's history. The drug-house slayings tied for the nation's worst mass fatal shooting of 2020 and, according to the FBI, the second worst in state history.

At a preliminary hearing in 2020, FBI investigator Chris Hendon testified that Rogers admitted to fatally shooting James Wayne Benford, 22, of Decatur; Jeramy Roberts, 31, of Athens; Roger Lee Jones Jr., 20, of Decatur; and William Zane Hodgin, 18, of Somerville.

According to Hendon, Rogers said Legg was responsible for the shooting deaths of homeowner Tammy England Muzzey, 45; Emily Payne, 21; and Dakota Green, 17; all of Valhermoso Springs.

A small dog also was also fatally shot in the house.

Authorities found about 60 spent bullet casings in the house, and said some of the bodies were doused in gasoline and partially burned in an attempt to destroy evidence.

According to a search warrant affidavit, a witness said Legg and Rogers were members of a club called "7 Deadly Sins," which also included at least three of the homicide victims.

According to court records, Rogers has a competency hearing set in Circuit Judge Stephen F. Brown's courtroom at 10 a.m. Monday. No trial date has been set for either Legg or Rogers.

Attorneys for Legg did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.

Lewis was arrested five days after Jordan died at a local hospital and U.S. marshals arrested co-defendant Antone Lamar Yarbrough, 27, of Decatur, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, two weeks later. No trial date has been set for either defendant.

In a preliminary hearing in June 2021, a police detective testified he had no proof at that time that Lewis was present when Jordan was shot, but that Lewis had admitted to being involved in the plan to rob Jordan.

- mike.wetzel@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2442. Twitter @DD_Wetzel.

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