A man accused of killing a Sheffield police officer and another man will face trial in Colbert County but be represented by a Franklin County attorney after conflicts of interest and heavy caseloads prevented local attorneys from taking the case, records show.
Court documents show the first two attorneys who were court-appointed to represent Brian Lansing Martin filed motions to be removed from the capital murder case. One said he’s too busy and has 36 other appointed cases, while the other said she had a conflict of interest.
According to an order from Colbert County Judge Chad Coker, there were only three attorneys left in the county who could be appointed to the case, but each had “legitimate conflicts which would preclude their representation of the defendant.”
As a result, Martin will now be represented by Rebecca Thomason, an attorney who handled capital murder cases in Franklin County. Several of Thomason’s colleagues told WAAY 31 that if they needed a court-appointed attorney, she is the one they would want.
Martin is currently scheduled for a preliminary hearing Monday, though Thomason asked for the hearing to be postponed Thursday, which would give her additional time to familiarize herself with the case. Martin faces 10 charges related to the Oct. 1 incident that left two dead and two injured, including himself.
According to police, the incident began with an altercation in which Martin shot and killed William Mealback Jr. before pushing Mealback out of a vehicle on Avalon Avenue in Muscle Shoals, for which he is charged with abuse of a corpse and capital murder.
Martin then got into a car chase with Sheffield Police that ended in a shootout by the Muscle Shoals Walmart, police said. During the exchange, Sheffield Police Sgt. Nick Risner, Sheffield Police Lt. Max Dotson and Martin were each shot. Dotson and Martin survived; Risner died the next day.
In addition to the charges for Mealback’s death, Martin faces three counts of capital murder, two counts of attempt to commit murder, two counts of shooting into an occupied vehicle and one count of felon in possession of a firearm.