Colbert County DA to seek death penalty for suspect in murders of Sgt. Nick Risner, William Mealback

Brian Lansing Martin currently faces 10 charges, including capital murder for the deaths of Sgt. Nick Risner and William Clare Mealback Jr.

Posted: Oct 7, 2021 4:58 PM
Updated: Oct 7, 2021 6:57 PM

Colbert County District Attorney Bryce Graham said he will seek the death penalty for Brian Lansing Martin, the man accused of killing Sheffield Police Sgt. Nick Risner and William Mealback Jr., and injuring one in a series of shootings last week in Muscle Shoals.

Martin currently faces 10 charges related to the crime spree, including four capital murder charges. Graham said in a news conference Thursday that additional charges are possible.

Brian Lansing Martin (From Colbert County Jail)

There’s “still a lot going on in the investigation,” Graham said, but there’s “no doubt as to who the suspect is.”

Authorities said Martin was traveling on Avalon Avenue in Muscle Shoals on Oct. 1 when he shot Mealback in the head and chest, then pushed Mealback’s body out onto the roadway. A short time later, Martin was spotted by Sheffield police and chased back into Muscle Shoals.

The car chase ended near the Muscle Shoals Walmart, at which point Martin exchanged gunfire with police from multiple agencies. Risner, Sheffield Police Lt. Max Dotson and Martin were each injured.

Dotson’s bulletproof vest prevented serious injury. Martin received medical care at the scene before being taken to Huntsville Hospital.

Risner was flown to Huntsville Hospital, where he died the next day.

On Wednesday, Martin was transported to Colbert County Jail for booking on four counts of capital murder, two counts of attempt to commit murder, two counts of shooting into an occupied vehicle, one count of abuse of corpse and one count of felon in possession of a firearm.

Graham said as DNA, ballistics and other evidence is processed, it’s possible Martin will face additional attempted murder or shooting charges. The capital murder charges open the door for the death penalty.

It’s not the first time Graham has prosecuted Martin in a murder case. In 2011, Martin was arrested on murder and theft charges related to his father’s death. The case went before a jury and even reached deliberation before a plea deal was arranged in which Martin would serve 10 years in prison in exchange for pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Martin began serving his sentence in 2013 but was released in 2016 under Alabama’s Good Time Law. Several officials, from law enforcement to legislators to the state’s attorney general, have called for changes to the law since, saying the murders would have never occurred had Martin been required to stay in prison for his full sentence.

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