Vincent murder suspect granted youthful offender status

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ASHLAND – A 21-year-old Vincent murder suspect’s case has been sealed and he will be tried without a jury after a Clay County Circuit Court Judge granted him youthful offender status during a May 24 hearing.

Bunner

Bunner

Clay County Circuit Court Judge George Simpson granted youthful offender status to Loren Daniel Bunner, who has been charged with the August 2015 shooting and killing 18-year-old Vincent resident Jolee Callan, during a hearing at the Clay County Courthouse.

As a result of youthful offender status, Bunner’s court documents are now sealed from public view, and Bunner has waived his right to a trial by jury. The maximum sentence for youthful offenders is three years in jail, according to the Alabama code.

If found guilty as an adult on the murder charge, Bunner could have faced up to life in prison.

Bunner’s attorney, Gregory Varner, requested Bunner be granted youthful offender status, and claimed Bunner “may suffer from Asperger’s syndrome.” After psychologist Dr. John Goff performed a mental evaluation of Bunner, Varner said Goff confirmed the diagnosis.

Bunner’s Aug. 31, 2015, arrest came one day after the sheriff’s office received a report of a homicide on the Pinhoti Trail in Cheaha State Park in Delta.

After searching the area, sheriff’s deputies discovered Callan’s body. Callan, a 2015 graduate of Vincent High School, was shot and killed with a .22-caliber Ruger Bearcat revolver, deputies said.

In addition to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, the Oxford Police Department, Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office, Jacksonville State University Forensics, U.S. Forestry Department agents, Cleburne County Search and Rescue and Clay County Search and Rescue assisted in the investigation of the crime.