Oct. 28–Bibb County law enforcement officials, including then-Sheriff Keith Hannah, knew John Barry Hubbard had raped a woman and terrorized her and her sister, but for months protected him and refused to warn the women of more looming danger to them, a federal lawsuit by one of the women claims.
They ignored his threats and vandalism, covering for Hubbard when he shot out the windows of her business and tried to push her car into a pool. They ignored the video that showed him putting up defamatory posters about her. They ignored all the signs of a deranged man.
Until July 21, 2015, when Hubbard killed 30-year-old Kandi Murphy with four shots — two to the chest and once each in the arm and leg. Until July 21, when he dragged her sister Tammy Murphy Carpenter, then 46, into the woods and raped her, according to Murphy’s lawsuit.
Hubbard, 60 at the time, was later charged with capital murder and stalking. Hannah, the sheriff, would later commit suicide.
But the story, laid out in this lawsuit, lives on. And those being sued deny their alleged roles.
The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of Alabama federal court by Florence attorney Henry F. “Hank” Sherrod on behalf of Carpenter, lists as defendants: Frankie Hannah, as the representative of Keith Hannah’s estate; Keith Crofford, Hannah’s chief investigator; Harold Randolph, a Bibb County businessman, Hubbard’s employer and a close friend of Hannah’s; Jeffrey Randolph, Harold Randolph’s son and business partner in Aranco LLC and Randolph Company; Shelby Jean Hubbard, and Gary Wade Rowland, both relatives of Hubbard.
According to the suit, Carpenter and Hubbard had been a relationship, during which time he abused Carpenter. Her efforts to get out the relationship were met with violence culminating on May 9, 2015 when Hubbard imprisoned Carpenter in her home and raped her. When Carpenter escaped, she went to the home of her sister, Kandi Murphy. She then went to the hospital and was admitted under a “safety name” for psychiatric care.
Once Carpenter was released from the hospital, “Tammy was eventually able to gather the strength and courage to report the rape,” and on May 21, the sisters went to meet with Bryan Jones, assistant district attorney in Bibb County. He assured them, according to the suit, that charges would be filed against Hubbard.
“Charges were not brought because Harold Randolph intervened on Hubbard’s behalf,” the suit claims. It goes on to explain that Hubbard was employed by the Randolph family and had a close personal relationship with them. The suit also contends Randolph is a man of substantial influence in Bibb County, one of the largest landowners in the county and was a close friend of the sheriff’s who communicated with him daily via Southern Link and through other means of communication.
“Randolph and Hannah conspired and agreed to protect Hubbard from criminal charges and arrest,” according to the suit. “Hannah enlisted other members of his department in this conspiracy, including Keith Crofford, Hannah’s chief investigator.”
The suit says prosecutors didn’t file charges against Hubbard because of the influence of the sheriff. Bibb County District Attorney Michael Jackson told AL.com this week that Jones was “met with resistance” when he tried to pursue charges against Hubbard.
The lawsuit contends that while the protection of Hubbard began with an intervention to protect Hubbard from charges for the May 2015 rape of Carpenter, the protection didn’t end there. “It continued for two months as Hubbard, emboldened by the protection he received, engaged in a violent campaign that ended in the abduction and rape of Tammy and the murder of Kandi on July 21, 2015.”
That violent campaign, according to the suit, included Hubbard breaking into Carpenter’s home, burning her mobile home in Orange Beach, burning the storage building behind her house and shooting out the windows of her business. He also was captured on video putting up defamatory posters about Carpenter. Hubbard, the suit claims, used his Randolph company truck in all, or most of, the incidents and was on the clock for the Randolphs much of the time.
In May of that year, AL.com has previously reported, Carpenter had filed for a restraining order against Hubbard, but her case was dismissed when she failed to appear at a hearing.
In late June 2015, there were multiple calls and meetings between Hannah, Harold Randolph and Crofford about Hubbard. The suit says all were concerned that Hubbard would hurt Carpenter and perhaps even kill her. “Rather than fire Hubbard and take the truck away, the Randolphs and their companies continued to employ Hubbard and permit him to use his company truck to terrorize Tammy and their employment of him as an alibi.”
According to the suit, the sheriff and Randolph told Hubbard he had been caught on video putting up the defamatory posters and that they could no longer protect him. “By late June,” the suit reads, “Hannah, the Randolphs and Crofford knew Hubbard was responsible for the criminal acts against Tammy and recognized that Hubbard’s escalating campaign of terror against Tammy was highly likely to end in tragedy.”
Throughout June and into July of that year, Carpenter repeatedly sought help from the sheriff and his deputies and was repeatedly denied help, the suit claims. Not only did they not help her, it reads, but “by communicating to Hubbard that he was above the law, these defendants further emboldened him. Nevertheless, until the very end, the Randolphs, Hannah and Crofford had an opportunity to save Tammy and Kandi.”
On June 20, 2015, close to midnight, Hubbard drove his company truck to near Carpenter’s home, stole a logging skidder using a universal skidder key he got through work, and rammed the sisters’ vehicles. They called 911 and met with a deputy the following day. “Hannah and Crofford discussed with Randolph that they were all in an untenable situation,” the suit reads. “They discussed how they had protected Hubbard after the rape. They discussed how Hubbard, rather than backing off, had continued terrorizing Tammy. They discussed that Hubbard was out of control.”
The suit says Randolph, Hannah and Crofford agreed that the sheriff’s officials would meet with Hubbard and tell him he had no choice but to leave town. “All agreed and understood that Hubbard’s likely response to learning he would no longer receive the sheriff’s protection would not be to just leave town quietly,” according to the suit. “All agreed and understood that Hubbard was highly likely to choose a violent solution to the situation.”
They met with him at 8 a.m. on July 21, 2015 and told Hubbard they could not protect him any longer, the suit reads. “During the meeting, Hubbard made clear he intended to solve the problem through violent means. Nevertheless, Hannah and Crofford did not arrest Hubbard or warn Tammy.”
After leaving the sheriff’s office that morning, Hubbard — still on the clock for his employers — went to Carpenter’s home and waiting in the woods until the sisters finished meeting with the deputy. Also that morning, the suit contends, Murphy posted on Facebook about Hannah’s refusal to protect them. “Hannah called Tammy and Kandi multiple times to get Kandi to remove the Facebook posting. Hannah did not warn Tammy or Kandi about Hubbard; his only concern was the Facebook post,” the suit reads.
In the meantime, according to the suit, Crofford called Carpenter. While she was on the phone with the investigator, Hubbard — brandishing two guns — walked through Carpenter’s backyard, entered her home and fatally shot Murphy. Hubbard then hit Carpenter over the head and dragged her a couple hundred yards to his company truck, which was parked in nearby woods.
Suffering from four gunshots wounds and a fractured skull, Murphy was still able to call 911 and tell authorities that Hubbard had shot her. She later died at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa.
The suit says Hubbard then drove Carpenter to the Talladega National Forest, where he forced Carpenter to strip. As a result of the exposure to the elements, she had more than 100 bug bites and other injuries.
While in the woods, Hubbard wrecked his truck. He then used two cell phone calls to place several calls, including to lawsuit defendant Shelby Jean Hubbard and Gary Wade Rowland. Other calls were to Harold Randolph. Rowland ended up using Shelby Jean Hubbard’s vehicle to pick up Hubbard and Carpenter and then took them to a motel room rented in his name.
Hubbard was arrested, and Carpenter rescued, the following night after police swarmed the Travel Inn off Interstate 59 in Eutaw after Carpenter was able to ask a nearby restaurant worker for help.
Hubbard was charged with first-degree aggravated stalking and capital murder-burglary, capital murder-kidnapping, and two counts of capital murder — rape. He remains in the Bibb County jail without bond. The next status hearing in the case is set for early November.
If convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death, Hubbard would be following in the footsteps of his father, James Barney “J.B.” Hubbard, who was executed by lethal injection in 2004 for the 1977 murder of a Tuscaloosa grocer.
Rowland, his cousin, was also charged with capital murder but that charge was later dismissed at the request of the Attorney General’s Office, which handling the prosecutions in the case, for lack of probable cause. Rowland is still charged with kidnapping and hindering prosecution. His trial is set for Feb. 12, 2018.
Hannah, 50, was found dead from a single gunshot wound to the head shortly after 9 a.m. on Nov. 16, 2016. His body was discovered in the restroom that adjoined his office. He had been with the sheriff’s office for 29 years and joined the force when he was 21. His career as sheriff started in January 2003. His death was ruled a suicide.
Efforts to reach Bibb County sheriff’s officials for this story were unsuccessful.
Jamie Helen Kidd, one of the attorneys who represent the Hannah estate, said she couldn’t comment pending the ongoing litigation. She, like many of the attorneys in the case, has filed a motion to dismiss the sheriff’s estate from the lawsuit. She contents the former sheriff is entitled to immunity from prosecution.
“The allegations in the instant case do not plausibly suggest that Sheriff Hannah was aware that John Barry Hubbard was as dangerous as he turned out to be towards either Tammy Carpenter or Kandi Murphy,” the motion reads. “Further, they do not suggest that he either emboldened or ignored the risk of which he was aware.”
On the contrary, she wrote, the allegations make clear that Hannah told Hubbard he could not protect him twice before the July 21, 2015 incident, and was taking concrete steps at least of the morning of July 21, to investigate and prosecute Hubbard. “With the benefit of hindsight, his actions would appear to be too little and too late,” according to the motion. “There is no preexisting law, however, that would have given Sheriff Hannah notice at the time that he was constitutionally required to take different or more action.”
Tuscaloosa attorney Robert Spence, who represents Rowland and Shelby Jean Hubbard in the lawsuit, did not return a call seeking comment. Spence also has filed a motion to dismiss his clients from the suit. “The allegations fail to assert how these parties might have known that by giving Tammy and Hubbard a ride after their vehicle broke down that they were assisting Hubbard to escape, and completely fail to allege that Tammy requested any assistance,” Spence’s motion reads.
Montgomery attorney Richard Hill Jr. represents Investigator Crofford. Hill declined to comment for the story saying, “I do my talking in court,” but he, too, has filed a motion dismiss his client from the lawsuit claiming Corfford is immune to prosecution through his position.
David L. McCalister, of Carr Allison Pugh Howard Oliver & Sisson in Vestavia Hills, represents the Randolph family and its company. He filed a response to the suit last month, and said he not yet in a position to comment further. “My clients, of course, deny all of these allegations,” he said.
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