Dennis Hicks was sentenced to death and remains on Alabama Death Row for the brutal murder of Joshua Duncan. According to court documents Joshua Duncan remains were found on an old police shooting range and the man had been disemboweled and decapitated. Dennis Hicks who was on parole after serving 25 years for a double murder was the last person to be seen with the victim. Dennis Hicks would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
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In keeping with a jury’s recommendation, Circuit Court Judge Charles Graddick sentenced Dennis Hicks to death Monday for murdering and dismembering a man in the presence of children.
Wrapping up a two-hour sentencing hearing for Hicks, Graddick ruled that “there can be only one penalty, and that is the penalty of death.”
The case began in October 2011, when human remains were found at a west Mobile site previously used as a law enforcement shooting range. The body was identified as that of 23-year-old Joshua Duncan, a mentally challenged man who had been missing for a month. According to investigators, Duncan’s body was decapitated and disemboweled.
Hicks, then 53, quickly was identified as a person of interest in the case. According to a police investigator, he had befriended Duncan at church, and was the last person seen with him before his disappearance. At the time, Hicks was on parole after serving 25 years for a double murder in Mississippi. In that case, according to an MPD investigator, Hicks had shot and stabbed two victims, then left their bodies in the trunk of a car.
In November 2011, Hicks was arrested for violating his parole, and eventually was charged with Duncan’s murder. He remained incarcerated through his trial; he was convicted of Duncan’s murder in late January, and the jury recommended the death penalty in early February.
Hicks entered Monday’s hearing with a list of objections and motions, arguing that the trial should be thrown out on several grounds. His hair now gray, and his voice nervous, he attempted to argue that his alibi hadn’t been properly considered, that evidence had been planted and that his attorneys hadn’t effectively represented him. “I just don’t think they did me right,” he said. “I was disinformed and lied to by both my counsel.”
Because Hicks’ objections weren’t always formulated in language the court understood, Graddick repeatedly asked him to stop the narrative and explain exactly what his motion was. In response to one of them, Graddick said, “Let’s see, I’ve never done this. I’m denying the motion for me to correct myself.” He denied all Hicks’ motions, except to stipulate that Hicks’ attorneys, Glynn Davidson and Deborah McGowin, would not represent him on appeal.
For his part, Graddick said that Davidson and McGowin had “done an outstanding job for you” and “provided effective assistance,” regardless of the outcome. It was a view shared by Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Wright, who said after the hearing that she was familiar with the defenders and that they were “very strong and ethical lawyers” who had done an excellent job under the circumstances.
Hicks maintained that he had been helping Duncan learn to live independently by renting him a room, letting him work on odd jobs and teaching him to drive. He never would have harmed “Josh,” he said.
“I’m 100 percent innocent,” said Hicks, describing the murder and his prosecution as “a double tragedy.”
As he approached his ruling, Graddick said investigators had found that three small children had been present in the residence where Duncan was murdered. Two of them had testified to details confirmed in forensic analysis of his body: That Duncan had been stabbed and disemboweled, and that his head and hands had been cut off.