Guest Editorial: Cullman County District Attorney Wilson Blaylock announces report of April 2022 Grand Jury

Photo courtesy of Cullman County Courthouse

CULLMAN, Ala. – In its April 2022 term, the Grand Jury of Cullman County issued felony and misdemeanor indictments in 257 cases with a total of 492 counts.  Several defendants have multiple cases, and many cases include multiple counts.  Here is a breakdown of the counts for each of the following categories of crime: 

Attempted Murder:                                      2

Sex Offenses:                                             22

Child Abuse:                                               2

Chemical Endangerment:                            36

Other Harm to Persons:                              15

Thefts/Forgeries:                                       237

Damage to Property:                                  66

Drugs:                                                      84

Others (traffic offenses, etc.):                     28

We are thankful to the members of the Grand Jury for their service in these matters, and to have skilled and dedicated law enforcement officers that investigated these matters from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), Cullman County Sheriff’s Office, Cullman City Police Department, Hanceville Police Department and Wallace State Community College Campus Police Department.

Potential members of the grand jury are selected from the county’s driver’s license list.  Once an individual is selected and sworn in as a member of the grand jury, they have three primary duties: (1) inquire into indictable criminal offenses committed in or that can be tried in Cullman County, (2) inquire into any alleged misconduct or incompetency of any public officer in Cullman County and (3) inquire and inspect the county jail and juvenile detention facilities to ensure that they are in sufficient condition.  The grand jury has the power to investigate indictable crimes and decide whether there is enough probable cause to issue an indictment. Once an indictment is issued, the circuit court, which handles all felony jury trials, acquires jurisdiction of the case.  The functions and powers of the grand jury end when the indictment is received by the circuit court.  All matters presented and investigated by the grand jury are to remain a secret and each member is required to keep those matters confidential.

As these cases move further through the court system, our office will continue to seek justice by making the tough decisions to resolve these cases either through jury trials or plea bargains that include imprisonment, placement in the Community Corrections Program or placement on probation. Every case is different and there are many factors that go into making these decisions such as the: vulnerability of the victim, wishes of the victim and their family, amount of restitution owed and payable to the victim, willingness of the victim to testify, credibility of the victim and other witnesses, seriousness of the offense, accused’s prior history, recommendations of law enforcement officers, sentencing guidelines for property and drug crimes, strengths or weakness of critical evidence and other circumstances. 

Our office will prosecute each case through a jury trial when justice requires; however, not every case can be tried either due to the backlog of the court system or other circumstances. Rest assured that our office will continue to carefully consider these factors in our pursuit of justice while balancing our role as good stewards of taxpayer dollars and law enforcement resources.

It is a great pleasure to serve as your district attorney.  If our office can be of any assistance to you, please feel free to call us at (256) 736-2800.

**The law requires prosecutors to make the following disclosure:  Members of the public should keep in mind that indictments contain only allegations against the individual against whom the indictment is sought. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and it will be the State’s burden at trial to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the allegations contained in the indictment.