2nd man now charged with murder in New Canaan shooting death

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Jacob Drane (Cullman County Sheriff’s Office)

NEW CANAAN, Ala. – A second man is now charged with murder in the shooting death of 24-year-old Levi Benjamin Lawrence, of Cullman. Tyler Dwight Dooley, 26, of Arab was charged with murder in connection to the case. Now, Jacob Andrew Drane, 21, of New Canaan is also charged with murder.

Lawrence and 36-year-old Dalton Matthew Bannister, of Blountsville were killed and a woman hospitalized following an altercation and shooting in the New Canaan community in northeast Cullman County in the very early morning hours of Saturday, Aug. 15 near a residence along County Road 1854. According to Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry, Lawrence died while defending himself from Bannister.

Cullman County Coroner Jeremy L. Kilpatrick said Lawrence and Bannister were pronounced dead at the scene. The female who was shot has not been identified.

“Mr. Lawrence was the victim in this case,” said Gentry. “Mr. Bannister, that is deceased, is the offender.”

Gentry said that in the course of the investigation, his office learned there was another individual at the scene, identified as Dooley.

Cullman County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) investigators worked with the Arab Police Department and Marshall County Sheriff’s office to execute a search warrant in Arab, where Dooley was found.

Also charged in connection to the crime was Ricky Dale Martin, 48, of New Canaan.

“As we were investigating, putting the pieces of the puzzle together, this is what we determined,” said Gentry. “Mr. Lawrence had received a message from one of the offenders that we’ve arrested about hanging out at this residence (in New Canaan). So, Mr. Lawrence is there talking to his friend, Mr. Drane, at the residence belonging to another offender that we’ve arrested; his name is Ricky Martin. Mr. Martin is known to associate with people that are not the best. At this point, later on in the night, Mr. Dooley, Bannister and the female arrived at the residence…Mr. Lawrence realized that these people are not who you want to be around. Mr. Lawrence told them that he was going to leave. As Mr. Lawrence attempted to leave, Bannister and Dooley had predetermined that they were going to rob Lawrence of his possessions. These individuals are known throughout those communities to do those of kind of things.”

Gentry continued, “As Mr. Lawrence attempts to leave, he’s confronted by an armed suspect, Bannister, at which time Mr. Lawrence was also armed and an altercation occurs and there is rounds that are exchanged. After the gunfight, the Dooley flees the scene, leaving Bannister and the female on the ground.”

The sheriff emphasized that Lawrence was the victim and said Bannister and Dooley being free before the crime occurred was a result of a failure of the system.

“Bannister and Dooley are a failure to the system,” he said. “You look at their criminal histories. They should be in prison. They had a reputation to go out and do bad things, but they met somebody that said, ‘You know what? You’re going to do bad things, but I’m not going to allow you to do bad things to me or anyone else. Mr. Lawrence was defending himself. He defended himself, and as a result, he shot someone that did bad things who is now deceased, but in turn he lost his life. One of the things I look at is if Bannister and Dooley had both left, what other bad things would they have done to other people in the community?”

Said Gentry, “Anytime there’s a loss of life, it breaks your heart for the family. We have met with Mr. Lawrence’s family and been in constant contact, and for them, our heart and prayers are going out.”

Gentry praised the work of the CCSO deputies and investigators and law enforcement from Marshall County, as well as the Cullman Police Department, which also assisted in Arab when Dooley was taken into custody.

Dooley is being held on a $50,000 cash bond.

Drane was originally charged with second-degree criminal trespassing and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is now being held without bond.

Martin, charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, has made bond.

Dooley and Drane are being held in the Cullman County Detention Center.

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Wendy Sack

wendy@cullmantribune.com