Helena man charged with capital murder pleads not guilty
By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer
COLUMBIANA–A 26-year-old Helena man arrested on a capital murder and robbery charges on April 28 pleaded not guilty during his June 15 arraignment.
Justin Taylor Ward was arrested on April 28, and charged with capital murder and robbery after allegedly shooting his father, Gene Ward Jr.
Gene Ward’s body was discovered in his home in the 2500 block of Shelby County 93 in rural Shelby near Helena on Monday, April 27 and he died from apparent gunshot wounds, according to police.
According to Justin Ward’s indictment, “on or about” April 26, Ward allegedly “intentionally caused the death of Gene Ward Jr., by shooting him with a pistol, and the said Justin Ward caused said death during the time he was in the course of committing a theft of property, to-wit: One brown leather wallet with assorted contents and/or U.S. currency, one check and one 1994 Mercedes vehicle.”
Justin Ward pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, confirmed by Shelby County District Attorney Jill Lee, who is prosecuting the case.
Justin Ward is currently in the Shelby County Jail where he is being held without bond.
Capital murder is a Class A felony, and if convicted, Justin Ward could face up to life in prison or the death penalty.
Because a firearm or deadly weapon was used or attempted to be used in the commission of the felony, Justin Ward now faces no less than 20 years in prison according to Alabama Code.