Earlier today we read of the recent arrest of John Junior Minton; it came a few short weeks after the arrest of Jessica Marie Nunley in Lauderdale County. Both Minton and Nunley were on probation/parole for their roles in the murder of David Lynn Pennington. Considering the crime years after it happened, we realized just how similar it was to the murder of Danny Sledge, also in Lauderdale County. Yet the legal results could hardly have been more dissimilar.
Let’s compare the two crimes:
March 1999: It’s late night, and Danny Sledge is working alone at the Galley, a small, somewhat secluded eatery located on Shoal Creek.
May 2011: It’s late night, and David Lynn Pennington, confined to a wheelchair, is home alone at his residence in the Macedonia community west of Florence.
March 1999: Eric Boyd, 19, and his brother Nathan, 17, both into alcohol and other drugs, are driving around town when Nathan allegedly suggests they visit Sledge whom he said owed him money.
May 2011: Tiffany Lynn Nunley, 20, her twin sister Jessica Marie Nunley, and John Junior Minton, 29, all into drugs, are driving around western Lauderdale County when Tiffany allegedly suggests they visit Pennington, a man with whom she had previously traded sex for money.
March 1999: Eric Boyd parks his vehicle in an out of the way place while Nathan allegedly enters the restaurant alone*.
May 2011: John Minton and Jessica Nunley allegedly wait in Minton’s vehicle while Tiffany Nunley enters Pennington’s house alone.
March 1999: Eric Boyd leaves the Galley with blood on his shoes and money in his pockets. The two brothers drive away from the scene and go to a bar where they spend the cash taken from the restaurant.
May 2011: Tiffany Nunley leaves Pennington’s home with money and prescription drugs. The three drive away from the scene.
March 1999: Danny Sledge’s body is found on the floor of his restaurant; he had been stabbed with such viciousness that the blade of the knife had broken off in his body.
May 2011: David Pennington’s body is found in his home; he had been stabbed more than 70 times.
March 1999: Both Eric and Nathan Boyd are arrested and charged with Capital Murder.
May 2011: Tiffany Nunley, Jessica Nunley, and John Minton quickly become suspects and are eventually indicted, arrested, and charged with Capital Murder.
2000/2001: No deal is reached in the Sledge murder case, and the victim’s family pushes for trials for the Boyd brothers. Nathan Lee Boyd is convicted of Capital Murder and is currently serving a sentence of Life Without Parole. Eric Wayne Boyd is convicted of Felony Murder and is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole at some future date.
2014: After months of legal wrangling, Pennington’s family accepts a plea agreement. Tiffany Nunley is sentenced to 16 years and six months in prison for Manslaughter with extenuating circumstances. Jessica Nunley and John Minton are convicted of Hindering Prosecution. J. Nunley is sentenced to five years probation, and Minton, with an extensive criminal record, is sentenced to 10 years.
2016: Jessica Nunley fails a drug test and attempts to escape from the Lauderdale County Courthouse in March. She’s remanded to community corrections to finish her sentence. John Minton is arrested for DUI in July. It’s currently unknown how this will affect his parole status.
Are the two crimes that different? We think not. Yet the results indicate what a crap shoot our criminal justice system really is.
* While Jessica Nunley and John Minton backed each other up in their accounts of not entering their victim’s home, there were no witnesses as to who actually entered the Galley. No physical evidence connected Eric Boyd to the restaurant where Danny Sledge was murdered, but prosecutors contended both brothers were involved in the actual murder. Certainly, Eric Boyd was at least an accessory after the fact and deserved his sentence.