I-Team: Huntsville capital murder charge will remain on man's record after being dropped

The Alabama expungement law was expanded in 2017, stating a violent offense, such as capital murder, can be expunged but only in certain cases. Lauderdale's case does not qualify.

Posted: Apr 30, 2019 7:37 PM
Updated: May 1, 2019 6:48 PM

The WAAY 31 I-Team is digging deeper into a state law that will keep a capital murder arrest on Demorris Lauderdale's record for life.

Lauderdale was charged after a murder last month at a Huntsville apartment complex. On Friday, Huntsville police released him from jail, and a judge formally dismissed charges on Monday. 

Demorris Lauderdale

The Alabama expungement law was expanded in 2017, stating a violent offense, such as capital murder, can be expunged but only in certain cases. Lauderdale's case does not qualify. 

"Pursuant to our current statute, this stays on his record," Greg Varner, Lauderdale's defense attorney, said.

Varner spent the past month defending Lauderdale for a crime he says his client didn't commit. Lauderdale was jailed on a capital murder charge after Huntsville police believed he was the man who killed 19-year-old Austin Rich in March. 

Lauderdale's attorney presented surveillance pictures showing his client hundreds of miles away in Georgia, near the time of the murder. Varner says, because of the law, the capital murder charge stays on his record.

"Every employer that presumably does a background check on him, it'll show up that he was charged with capital murder," Varner said.

Varner tells WAAY 31 the judge dismissed the case against Lauderdale without prejudice, meaning police could file charges against him down the road in this case. 

Previously, the Alabama expungement law did not allow violent felony offenses to be cleared under any circumstances. After the 2017 amendment, the violent charge could be expunged only if a jury comes to a not guilty verdict. Lauderdale didn't go to trial, and even though the murder case against him was dismissed, he doesn't qualify.

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