Thursday, March 6, 2014

Jeff Eddie: Billy Underwood's Statement

This a transcript of Billy Underwood's remarks on the sentence accepted by sexual predator/preacher Jeff Eddie:

My client, his extremely wonderful and caring mother and father, plus his compassionate sisters wish to express their sincere sorrow and condolences to the victims and their families about this horrendous situation. They know that there is nothing they can say to make the situation go away, but their hearts are heavy with sorrow.

It would have been an hypocrisy to violate these victims again by putting them through a 12-person jury trial with the public media following each step of the proceedings. This plea gives plausible deniability for any victim to say that they were not part of this sordid episode. There will be no trial where a victim has to face a jury and the public. I would like to thank the District Attorney, Bryce Graham, and Assistant District Attorney Kyle Brown, for the way they handled this matter.

I especially acknowledge Detective Captain Craig Rickman, Detective Captain Sig Mueller of the Muscle Shoals Police Department, and ABI Lieutenant Brian Faulkner, for their thorough, rapidity of action, and professionalism in how they brought this case to a quick end within 36 hours of Eddie’s detainment with them. This has been a textbook example of how one of these cases should be investigated and it should be duplicated by other agencies and State authorities in handling situations such as this. Their attention to the most minute details caused me to do something I have never done in my 30+ years of practicing law. With my client’s approval, I made transparent my file to the investigators which caused us to settle this case.

To the public who wonders why there was such a rush to justice in this case, I would say the evidence was a Titanic iceberg. The public has seen only the surface of what the charges could be and were unable to know the true depth of this case. This case may have created a Sandusky-like scandalous atmosphere if we had allowed it to go to Grand Jury and carry on for one to two years of public scrutiny and media coverage daily on the matter while trial awaited. This is a small, close-knit community. The damage to the victims would be frequent and almost daily. There was never any reason to cause a continual black eye for the Shoals area that could interfere with recruitment of industry and the well-being of our citizens.

My job was to make sure Jeff Eddie did not receive a death sentence in prison. He will end his last 10-15 years of life outside of a prison. This is all that could be hoped for in a situation such as this. I would like to quote Winston Churchill in regards to this case. His statement goes something like this.

“This is not the end. This is not the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning.”

While the criminal case should be left behind us, there will be some families who lawyer up and file civil lawsuits that will probably be under the radar of the local news media in their quest for satisfaction in this case. Again, I only wish the victims the best and they do have plausible deniability.


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