Helena man sentenced to life for murder

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA–A 28-year-old Helena man was sentenced to life in prison on Aug. 29 after a guilty plea in the 2015 capital murder and robbery of 61-year-old Gene Ward Jr.


Shelby County Circuit Court Judge William Bostick sentenced Justin Taylor Ward to life in prison after Ward pleaded guilty to capital murder and robbery during his plea date on Aug. 29.

Ward, who was 26 years old at the time of the incident, was arrested on April 28, 2015, and charged with capital murder and robbery of Gene Ward Jr.

Gene Ward’s body was discovered in his home in the 2500 block of Shelby County 93 in rural Shelby County near Helena on April 27, 2015 where he died from apparent gunshot wounds, according to police.

According to Ward’s indictment in early May 2015, “on or about” April 26, 2015, 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.”