Trial date set for Vincent murder suspect

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ASHLAND – A 22-year-old Vincent man who has been charged with shooting and killing an 18-year-old Vincent woman is set to stand trial on the murder charge in mid-July, according to Clay County Circuit Court records.

Bunner

In late April, Circuit Court Judge George Simpson entered a scheduling order in the murder case against Loren Daniel Bunner, who has been charged with the August 2015 shooting death of 18-year-old Vincent resident Jolee Callan.

According to the order, jury selection for the murder trial will begin on Monday, June 26, and the trial will begin on Monday, July 17.

Bunner’s Aug. 31, 2015, arrest came one day after the Clay County 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.

Bunner originally was granted youthful offender status in the case last year, meaning his court documents were sealed from public view, and his maximum sentence was capped at three years in jail.

However, Simpson revoked Bunner’s youthful status on Nov. 17, 2016, according to court documents, meaning Bunner will now be tried as an adult on the felony murder charge. If found guilty, he faces up to life in prison.

Bunner has pleaded not guilty to the crime, and has asked, through his attorney Gregory Varner, to have the trial venue moved outside of Clay County.

In the request for a new venue, Varner claimed the case’s coverage in the media and on social media has caused public bias against Bunner.

“Attempting to select a jury will be a needlessly time-consuming venture that will require repeated attempts to convince jurors that they must remove from their minds matters that virtually all the jurors will have heard, read and seen,” read the request. “While some jurors may assure the court that they can wipe the slate clean, the defendant is entitled to a jury in this case that does, in fact, come to the court with an open mind, not a jury that is at best, struggling to create an open mind prior to the first witness being called to the stand.”

As of May 9, Simpson had not yet ruled on the change of venue request.