Appeals Court rejects sentence in Meeks homicide conviction

Meeks, center, listens as Judge Nicholas instructs the jury during his 2020 trial. (Cullman Tribune file photo)

CULLMAN, Ala. – An Alabama appellate court, in a preliminary statement, upheld the conviction of Brad Meeks, 30, of Bremen, on the charge of criminally negligent homicide in the May 7, 2017, death of Curtis “Curt” James Wilson, 15, of Cullman, but rejected the 10-year sentence (the maximum available for the crime) imposed on him by Cullman County Circuit Judge Gregory Nicholas. The court labeled Nicholas’ sentence “illegal” and called on the judge to hold a new sentencing hearing. 

Meeks’ attorney appealed his conviction on the grounds that blood alcohol evidence was inadmissible due to chain of custody issues. The appellate court ruled against that argument, but noticed the sentence and decided to address it while reviewing the case. 

Criminally negligent homicide involving DUI is a Class C felony and carries an official sentence of from one year and one day up to 10 years. Pointing to the Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Guidelines published by the Alabama Sentencing Commission though, the appellate court said that a 10-year Class C felony sentence for a defendant who is not a “habitual felony offender” must result in actual prison time of no more than two years, followed by probation of no more than three years. Including time in prison since conviction and credit for time served in jail prior to the trial, Meeks has already been incarcerated for over two years. 

Meeks has a history of arrests on felony charges but has never been convicted of a felony. Two, including a 2015 charge of Attempted Murder of a Cullman County law enforcement officer, were pleaded down to misdemeanors. One Madison County felony case was dismissed when the District Attorney’s Office there was informed that “Defendant has been convicted of an offense in Cullman County and received a 10-year sentence.” 

Meeks currently faces a felony charge in Cullman County of possession of a controlled substance for methamphetamine found while he was being arrested on other warrants in 2019. The Cullman County District Attorney’s Office has requested that Meeks be arraigned on this charge the same day he appears for resentencing in the homicide case. 

The appellate court did not address the two other charges for which Meeks was convicted and received separate one-year sentences. Since the case is active pending resentencing, Judge Nicholas did not comment. 

The appellate court must still issue an official statement on the case before resentencing can be scheduled. 

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W.C. Mann