For almost four decades, Charles McCrory has been fighting the key evidence that he said wrongly put him in prison for the violent murder of his wife, Julie Bonds.
But he couldn’t be there in person when his attorneys finally told a judge in south Alabama that the bite mark expert had taken back his original testimony from 1985, and that two more dentists found it flawed. Instead, the computer scientist watched his last best hope play out from a prison room – a pandemic precaution that remained in place during the April 2021 hearing.
His son and two sisters came and sat in the courtroom in downtown Andalusia. A professor from Auburn University-Montgomery stayed for most of the hearing. And so did a man with a long salt-and-pepper beard who had driven an RV down all the way from Virginia, only to be ejected after an outburst.
That man, Keith Harward, had come to support McCrory – the only known defendant in Alabama convicted on the increasingly debunked “junk science” of forensic dentistry.
Harward’s own case had exposed flaws in the field of forensic dentistry that came to light 34 years after his wrongful conviction for rape and murder. The McCrory case shared some eerie similarities with his own. He and the others listened as McCrory’s lawyers read an astounding admission from Dr. Richard Souviron, one of the field’s founders and a key witness in the case decades ago.
Nearly four decades later, the expert was no longer sure the bite mark found on the wife’s arm matched McCrory’s teeth. He didn’t even sound sure anymore that it was a bite mark at all.
“I no longer believe, as I did at the time of trial, that there is a valid scientific basis for concluding that the injury found on the skin of the victim in this case, assuming that the injury is in fact teeth marks, could be ‘matched’ or otherwise connected to a specific individual, such as Mr. McCrory,” Souviron wrote.
McCrory’s attorney, Mark Loudon-Brown of the Southern Center for Human Rights, laid out the problems with the state’s case.
“To my knowledge, it is the only case in Alabama where there’s a conviction that stands based on bite mark evidence,” Loudon-Brown said.
But it wasn’t enough to sway Covington County Circuit Judge Lex Short. More than 10 months after the hearing, the judge dismissed the challenge, effectively sending it to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. The next stage will test how Alabama’s judiciary treats evidence that has lost credibility in courts across the country and whether McCrory will join the long list of bite mark exonerees.
‘It was sensational’
Andalusia is a small town near the border of Florida, home to about 10,000 people. It’s a quiet community with a tidy courthouse square and little violent crime.
It’s where Charles McCrory grew up and met his wife, Julie Bonds, when both were children. They started dating when he was in high school and tied the knot when she was just 19 years old.
“She was around our house all the time,” said his sister, Renay Smith. “She was like a sister to us.”
They married in the early 1980s. By 1985, they had a little house in a subdivision called Sunny Acres and a three-year-old boy named Chad. So, it was odd when Bonds didn’t drop off Chad at her in-law’s house on the morning of May 31, as she usually did.
Laura Grissett, McCrory’s sister, remembered the morning well.
“We had Vacation Bible School,” Laura Grissett said. “I was waiting on him because Chad was in my class, and I was going to take him with me.”
As it turned out, McCrory had also been trying to get in touch with his wife. He had just started a new job at the Alabama Electric Cooperative in Andalusia and missed his breakfast rushing to work at 7:30, according to a statement he made to police. He called the house twice to see if his wife could bring him a biscuit but received no answer.
McCrory called his mom to see if Chad had been dropped off, and that’s when McCrory’s father decided to drive to the house to check on Bonds. Laura Grissett said her mother had a feeling something was wrong.
“Daddy was leaving, and she said if the door is open, don’t you go in by yourself,” Laura Grissett said.
The door was cracked open when McCrory’s father arrived, and he found her body lying about eight feet inside the entrance. Her pink nightgown had been pushed up and she lay exposed on the blood-soaked carpet. He found his grandson, who was still in bed in another room.
He called 911. Meanwhile, McCrory left the office, which was a little more than three miles away from the house. On the way there, he heard the call about an emergency near his home come over the radio he carried as a volunteer EMT.
He got to the scene before the ambulance, according to trial testimony. By the time the police arrived, he was trying to calm his father in the front yard.
“Go in there and find out who did this,” McCrory told the investigator on the scene, according to testimony.
Bonds had suffered tremendously at the hands of her attacker. Investigators found a dozen small puncture wounds clustered on the left half of her chest. She had defensive wounds on her palms and scrapes on her knees. Cuts and scratches covered her arms and legs.
The killer struck her in the back of the head several times with a heavy object – something like a pipe or a fire poker. Those blows killed Bonds and left her head and face swollen and disfigured.
Smith, McCrory’s other sister, said she still remembers that day clearly. Her father called her at around 8:30 a.m. and told her Bonds was dead.
“I didn’t panic, because you can’t,” Smith said. “You’re just so overwhelmed, you can’t, you can’t think straight, but I just locked up at work and went over there. But it was just one of those things that you never ever thought you would live through.”
Within a day or two, it was clear the investigators were focused on McCrory.
“I was asked for a statement, permission to search my vehicle and apartment, samples of hair, blood and dental,” McCrory wrote. “I agreed to all their requests.”
Bonds was killed on Friday. The medical examiner estimated she died around 3 or 4 a.m.
The family buried her Monday and McCrory’s sisters said they remember squad cars parked outside the cemetery. After the funeral, police took McCrory in for questioning and then arrested him. They hadn’t found the murder weapon or any physical evidence linking him to the crime, but they had discovered problems in the McCrory marriage.
At the time of the crime, McCrory and his wife were separated. He was living in an apartment not far from the family’s home. He had been having an affair with a woman who used to work with him.
During a search of the house, police discovered troves of pictures and VHS tapes showing McCrory and his wife engaged in bondage. In the era before sexting and digital photography, the couple kept additional sexual photos in a safe deposit box. They shared the key with another partner.
The prosecution pounced on the photos, but defense attorneys objected and hired a psychologist to testify that the sexual acts had nothing to do with the violent crime. A judge ultimately agreed that consensual materials could not be used as evidence in the case. By then, words had gotten out and the damage to his reputation had already been done.
“It was sensational,” said McCrory’s attorney in the first trial, Larry Grissett, who has no relation to the sister. “It gave it the sensation is that it had sexual overtones. These folks were swingers. That was not common at that point in time around here.”
Although the situation looked bad, McCrory insisted he and his wife remained on good terms and were on the verge of reconciliation. The day before the murder, they had marriage counseling and Bonds had offered to do McCrory’s laundry. Then they both met up at around 9 p.m. at the house on Lori Lane, watched some Hill Street Blues with Chad, then retired to the bedroom to have sex.
His sister said Bonds knew about McCrory’s affair. The whole family did. Despite the problems, the couple still shared the care of their three-year-old son and ate lunch together almost every day, Laura Grissett said.
“And there was no money,” Laura Grissett said. “There was nothing to gain from it.”
Still, authorities said McCrory had acted suspiciously on the morning of the murder, calling Bonds repeatedly when she should have been on her way to work and asking strange questions to police investigators on the scene. He didn’t display much emotion about her murder, they said, raising immediate doubts.
McCrory was held in an old jail in downtown Andalusia that has now been converted to a historic site. It’s a narrow, red brick structure fronted by a long staircase. His sisters described visits with no privacy, where they stood on a stool and shouted through a dirty window to McCrory while other inmates milled in the background.
The science has changed, but Alabama hasn’t
Since 1985, the science of bite and teeth marks has come under intense scrutiny. Dentists have long been involved in work to help identify human remains, but in the 1970s and 1980s some dentists took it a step further, developing techniques to match bite marks on the bodies of homicide victims to the teeth of possible suspects.
In 1984, the year before McCrory’s trial, the American Board of Forensic Odontology established guidelines used in hundreds of cases, including McCrory’s.
But by 2021, that work had fallen apart. DNA testing had overturned the convictions of several people convicted based on bite mark testimony – including Harward, the Virginia exoneree who drove to Alabama for McCrory’s hearing.
A 2009 study by the National Academy of Sciences found weak evidence in general for the claims made by bite mark experts.
Chris Fabricant, an attorney with the Innocence Project and author of “Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System,” said problems with the field were evident early on.
“Really the first doubts ought to have been sown from the very beginning in 1975 when it was first introduced at trial because there had never been any foundational or basic research in the field,” Fabricant said. “There had never been any proficiency test. There had never been any peer-reviewed literature published that validated any of the claimed assumptions of bite mark evidence.
“But truly, the skepticism didn’t develop until the first DNA exonerations involving bite mark evidence.”
In 2016, another devastating study was released. It found little agreement among board-certified experts about which marks came from bites and even less when matching them to specific teeth.
“The rise and coming fall of bitemark evidence has left a trail of miscarriages of justice in its path,” found the report, published in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences and authored by more than three dozen experts. “A series of individuals have been exonerated by DNA testing in cases involving bitemark evidence and still more have been exonerated by non-DNA evidence. Some of those individuals spent years or even decades in prison. The trial judges who uncritically accepted that bitemark evidence, and the appellate judges and federal habeas judges who did the same, have now had their own judgment called into question.”
McCrory and his attorneys have asked for a new trial without the teeth mark evidence. In a response, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall wrote that “shifting science” was not the same as new evidence.
“McCrory does not offer new evidence not known or available at the time of his trial; rather, he offers a new interpretation of the evidence,” according to the response. “This Court has said that this, by definition, is not ‘newly discovered evidence’ but, instead, is ‘newly available evidence,’ which is not the same thing.”
Although many states have moved away from bite mark evidence, and some have even set up task forces to review convictions obtained with disputed forensic evidence, Alabama courts remain mostly skeptical of those claims. When Loudon-Brown submitted the affidavit from Souviron, he was up against a system stacked against convicted felons seeking second chances at trial.
A review of petitions seeking post-conviction DNA testing in the Cardozo Law Review by a researcher working with the Georgia Innocence Project looked at Alabama’s system for evaluating innocence claims. She found no cases where judges agreed to have evidence tested for DNA, which can exonerate wrongfully convicted people and identify the guilty ones.
It’s not just about bite marks or junk science or any other specific mishandling or justice. Alabama’s system does not make it easy to look back and re-evaluate a conviction or any basis.
In fact, there hasn’t been a single exoneration in Alabama since 2015. That’s even though there have been 1,165 nationally between 2016 and 2022, according to the National Registry of Exonerations at the University of Michigan. Eight people in neighboring Mississippi have been exonerated during that time, including one man also convicted on bite mark evidence.
Marshall wrote that McCrory could have made a stronger case against the teeth mark testimony in 2002, when he filed his first petition for a new trial based on faulty forensic evidence. He also argued that the state had a strong case without the teeth marks, since two eyewitnesses said they saw McCrory’s car in the driveway early on the morning of the murder. Although McCrory’s attorneys have challenged the eyewitness testimony and two other eyewitnesses said they didn’t believe they saw the car in the driveway that morning, one surviving witness has stood by his statements for 37 years.
Despite the long odds, McCrory had some key advantages. Most notably, his legal team features attorneys from the Innocence Project and Southern Center for Human Rights who have deep experience debunking bad evidence. They came armed with multiple affidavits refuting the bite mark testimony and evidence that a key eyewitness could not have seen McCrory’s Bronco parked in the driveway.
“I just thought, how can you leave here and believe all that?” said his sister, Renay Smith.
The machinery of justice moved quickly in Covington County in 1985. McCrory hired Marceline Anthony “Bubba” Marsal, a high-profile lawyer from Mobile who once represented a member of the Manson Family. Marsal enlisted local lawyer, Larry Grissett, to assist.
In an unusual move, Bond’s family went out and hired private attorneys to assist the local prosecutor, Covington County District Attorney Grady Lanier.
“The reason being that Mr. Bonds didn’t feel like I was experienced enough, which I probably wasn’t,” Lanier said.
Larry Grissett said an uncle of Bonds spent $10,000 to retain the father-and-son team of Frank and Harvey Tipler to help Lanier. “He felt like he wanted someone with more experience as a lawyer,” recalled Lanier.
Bonds uncle has died, and her family has not been at the hearings and does not wish to discuss the case.
“I’m not interested in going public with any personal events that pertain to my family,” he wrote in an email, adding, “I don’t put much stock in re-creating events over five years old.”
Larry Grissett, among the original attorneys for McCrory, said hiring the Tiplers as private prosecutors tainted the case. A district attorney is elected to serve the public and deliver justice – that means truth comes before getting convictions. Private attorneys work for their clients. In this case, those clients were Bonds’ relatives, who wanted a guilty verdict, Larry Grissett said.
For Lanier, using outside attorneys leveled the playing field. The Alabama Attorney General’s Office often employs part-time district attorneys, and many larger counties have several prosecutors on staff. Covington County is a small community with few major crimes and less resources for murder cases.
The Tiplers had reputations as top-notch trial attorneys. The father, Frank Tipler, had a successful civil practice representing people in personal injury cases and had been involved in a lawsuit related to explosion-prone Ford Pintos in the 1980s. The son, Harvey Tipler, had graduated from Yale University and Stanford Law School.
The dental evidence in the McCrory case came from two small marks found on the back of Bonds’ right arm. A medical examiner had flagged the injury during an autopsy and investigators later theorized it might have happened when she flung up her arm in defense and struck McCrory’s top teeth.
The medical examiner sent photographs of the marks and the dental molds to Souviron, a leading expert in the field of criminal dental identification. Souviron was careful not to call it a bite mark. In his examination of the wounds in 1985, he wrote that the distance between the two marks matched McCrory’s upper incisors.
Souviron made a name for himself as a witness in the Ted Bundy case when he said the killer’s crooked teeth matched a ring of bruises found on the body of a murdered co-ed. That testimony kicked off a string of trial appearances for the Florida dentist.
Before trial in Alabama, Souviron matched images from the autopsy with molds of McCrory’s teeth. In a letter, he found similarities in the gap between the injuries on Bonds’ arm and the suspect’s top teeth but stopped short of drawing firm conclusions. Although the marks might have been made by McCrory’s teeth, he wrote prosecutors needed more to create a convincing link.
The marks could be “of some value,” he wrote, “if there is [a] substantial amount of additional evidence.”
The prosecution had little additional evidence. They found just eight fingerprints inside the home. Those proved nothing since McCrory frequently visited his wife and son and had been at the house the night before.
At some point between writing the letter and testifying at trial, Souviron received a visit in Florida from Harvey Tipler, Lanier said. The district attorney said his colleague was in the Sunshine State on another case and made an extra trip to visit the dentist. That visit wasn’t disclosed to McCrory’s defense attorneys before the trial.
Physical evidence found at the scene, including a footprint, hairs and a red bandana, never matched McCrory. Investigators never found the weapons used to stab Bonds or crush her skull. No blood was found on McCrory’s clothes or in his car, his family said.
Still prosecutors pressed on with trial, setting it for October 1985, less than five months after McCrory’s arrest. They bolstered the dental evidence with eyewitness testimony from a neighbor who said he’d seen McCrory’s Ford Bronco parked outside the house early on the morning of May 31. Another neighbor disputed that account.
But the prosecution built the foundation of its case on the troubled McCrory marriage. Their first witness was Gloria Wiggins, who had an affair with McCrory while he worked at the community college.
Wiggins, who later attended law school and remarried, did not respond to emails and messages for this story. The letters read from the stand portrayed McCrory as a man torn between his family and his girlfriend.
The most damning passage came in a letter from Wiggins to McCrory. The two had put their affair on ice while McCrory made some attempts to reconcile with Bonds.
“I do not think we can truly have a future until all the past is dead,” Wiggins wrote. “I feel most of the time like I’m in limbo. I can’t feel good and look to our future without thinking about the past.”
In another letter, McCrory apologized to Wiggins and described his own conundrum.
“I realize that maybe I was trying to hold on to two worlds and also that it is impossible to do and have some peace of mind,” he wrote.
Although the letters didn’t contain any threats or ultimatums, the prosecution used them to paint a picture of a man unhappy in his marriage. McCrory’s defense attorneys pushed back, noting that the couple had been in marriage counseling and vacationed at the beach just a week earlier with their son.
Wiggins’ testimony also supported McCrory’s alibi. She said he called her after 10 p.m. on Thursday from his apartment. Also, if Bonds was killed at 3 a.m. and he woke for work at 6:45, he had little time to commit the crime and remove all traces of blood from his belongings, his lawyers said.
Marsal and Larry Grissett grilled investigators from the small Andalusia Police Department on their handling of the case. They fixated so quickly on McCrory that they missed other potential suspects, the lawyers said.
The biggest oversight of all was the failure to fully investigate the possible involvement of Alton Ainsworth, Marsal said during the trial. Ainsworth, a worker at Bullard Construction near the Bonds’ home, had been arrested in a rape and home invasion several weeks after Bonds was killed. Investigators said he had been questioned and released. He pleaded guilted to burglary and rape in December 1985.
McCrory’s attorneys also said Bonds had called police to report a suspicious vehicle and a prowler just a few months before her murder. The attorneys suggested police hadn’t done enough to follow up on those leads.
But the bite marks made all the difference. Larry Grissett and McCrory both said the tipping point in the criminal case came when Souviron took the stand. McCrory had been born without an incisor, the dentist said, and his front teeth contained jagged edges reflected in the indentations on the victim’s skin.
Souviron said the type of dental abnormalities detected in the teeth marks are present in a fraction of a percentage of the population. And he said the marks had been made at or around the time of Bonds’ death. The careful hedging that marked his initial report vanished during direct questioning and the dentist said clearly that the marks were made by teeth during the murder of Julie Bonds.
“In your expert opinion and based on the evidence presented to you, were these teeth marks made by Charles McCrory?” Harvey Tipler asked.
“Yes,” Souviron answered.
It’s not clear why Souviron made such forceful assertions in court despite the concerns in his initial report. Lanier said the context of his statements could explain the difference.
“The questions on cross examination were more direct,” Lanier said. “That’s probably how that came about.”
It caught the defense team off guard. Attorney Larry Grissett said he spoke to Souviron moments before he testified and had no idea the dentist was going to definitively link the marks to his client.
“We asked him, ‘Can you say McCrory’s tooth made this mark?’” Larry Grissett said. “‘No, I can’t say that.’ Fifteen minutes later, gets on the stand and he says yes.”
Everyone inside the courtroom recognized the explosive nature of Souviron’s testimony, Larry Grissett said. McCrory, who had been feeling pretty good about his position, said his hopes sank. The difference between his testimony and the letter was shocking, he said.
“I knew as Dr. Souviron testified it was over,” McCrory wrote. “You could see it in the eyes of the jury. Here was a polished expert flown in from south Florida. They all believed every word he spoke. It was the turning point in the trial without doubt.”
Lanier said he remains convinced the marks on Bonds’ body were made by McCrory.
“I think the bite mark evidence was important,” Lanier said. “It was more than just two indentures. He was missing a certain tooth and it was obvious on the bite mark that that tooth was missing.”
McCrory’s family members disagree. Chad McCrory was raised by his father’s parents and grew to believe in his father’s innocence. He and McCrory’s sisters have been working on the case for decades.
“When you pull in a prominent expert, one of the lead guys on the Bundy case, that is his fame,” Chad McCrory said. “And you put him in a small town. He gets flown in from south Florida. I mean, his word is gospel.”
A few days after Souviron’s testimony, members of the jury found McCrory guilty, and he was sentenced to life in prison.
In an unusual move, the judge allowed McCrory to return home to wrap up his affairs for more than a week before starting his sentence. Then he reported to state prison.
Lanier, who is in private practice in Andalusia, said he still believes the jury reached the correct verdict.
“I think they got it right,” Lanier said. “I think we got it right. I think we presented the person who committed the crime.”
Life in prison
McCrory first went to Kilby Correctional Facility, a processing station for new inmates. For the former computer scientist, who had a middle-class life and no criminal history prior to 1985, the change in circumstance came as a shock.
“The physical aspects are not good, but the mental aspect is worse,” he wrote. “One has to form a positive mindset and associate with the few others that share that. Otherwise, you will dig yourself into a place that many do not come out of. Nothing new is born in a prison, but many hopes, dreams, and yes, even lives die there.”
From the start, his life as a prisoner differed from most. After he conviction, he remarried. It was not Wiggins, his affair from the community college. It was another friend who had written him in jail. The marriage lasted a few years and then dissolved as McCrory struggled to challenge the legitimacy of the bite mark testimony and his wife realized they would not live together outside of prison.
In 1990, he was transferred to Elmore Correctional Facility, where he lived with a group of highly trusted inmates under the watch of warden Ron Jones. In addition to his prison job, Jones also taught sociology at Auburn University-Montgomery alongside Don Bogie, who ran the school’s demographic research lab.
Before prison, McCrory had been a trailblazer, earning a degree in computer science in 1979 and building computer systems from scratch before the field had really caught on. The Alabama Department of Corrections used his expertise in those early years.
Jones suggested that McCrory help Bogie with some computer problems he had in the early 1990s. McCrory had been a trailblazer when it came to computer science and helped build some of the first systems at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College prior to incarceration.
A few days later, a work release van pulled up to campus. Most of the inmates headed off to work on landscaping. McCrory, dressed in prison whites, made his way up to the quiet office on the eighth floor of the library tower where Bogie worked with another sociologist and a graduate student.
Bogie had studied prisoners during his coursework in sociology.
“He was not exactly what I expected,” Bogie said. “He expressed himself well and appeared to be pretty well educated. He was clearly a cut above.”
Eventually McCrory became a fixture at the office.
“He just fit in wonderfully well, as far as AUM is concerned,” Bogie said. “When someone had a birthday, we would celebrate the birthday. We would celebrate [McCrory’s] birthday.”
The quiet computer tech earned a reputation that spread to other departments on campus.
“Other people at AUM would hear, ‘Oh you’ve got this fantastic guy helping you with computers. I’ve got a problem with my computer. Do you think he could help me out?’” Bogie said.
The work release job at AUM got him out of the prison system back to a familiar place: a college campus. Bogie and his secretary never treated him like a criminal, McCrory said.
“I’ll never forget how they befriended me, and later my family, when they were under no obligation to do so,” McCrory wrote in a letter from prison. “Working with them was a pleasure. I never felt like an inmate assigned to a job, rather a co-worker who enjoyed the work.”
Still, every afternoon, McCrory boarded a prison van that would take him back to Elmore. The man who quietly fixed computers during the day was also serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife.
Bogie said he struggled to understand how this man could have committed such a violent act. He thinks the two men were sitting at his desk during a lull in the workday when the question came up.
“I said, ‘Well Charles, how did it happen? Was it a domestic dispute? If you don’t mind, tell me what happened,’” Bogie said. “And Charles said, ‘I didn’t do it. I am innocent of that.’”
McCrory enjoyed more freedom and responsibility than most prisoners, but that ended when former Gov. Don Siegelman ordered all inmates convicted of violent crimes off work release programs. McCrory transferred from Elmore to Easterling Correctional Facility in southeast Alabama.
Bogie kept visiting McCrory even after he moved. Once or twice a year, the prison staff would hold a Family Day where friends and relatives could bring outside food.
During their time working together at AUM, Bogie had discovered that McCrory loved Chinese food. He couldn’t travel off campus for lunch, but the professor would bring him back an order of Szechuan chicken so he could have something other than college cafeteria food.
The families stayed close. Bogie’s wife even attended McCrory’s wedding in 2000, which he said was held in a Holiday Inn in Montgomery.
At Easterling, barred from working outside the prison, McCrory focused his energy on creating a faith dorm with the chaplain.
McCrory has completed several degrees and recently moved back into a work release facility. Although he has had several parole hearings, he has refused to take responsibility for the crime and remains behind bars. He has maintained his innocence for decades, even though it has cost him opportunities to leave prison.
One of the attorneys who prosecuted McCrory had his own trouble with the law. Harvey Tipler moved from Andalusia to Florida to practice law after the murder trial. He received a 30-year sentence after he tried to arrange a hit on an assistant state attorney who raided his immigration business. Tipler died in prison earlier this year.
Souviron is facing a lawsuit in another bite mark case in Florida which resulted in a wrongful conviction. He would not comment for this story but said in an earlier interview he recanted his testimony based on new knowledge that wasn’t available in 1985.
Larry Grissett has followed the case, even though he no longer represents McCrory. Although he doesn’t believe Ainsworth, the construction employee who worked right behind the McCrory house, killed Bonds, he has gotten tips over the years about other suspects who might have. Ainsworth died several years ago.
In their quest to free McCory, his family has run into one roadblock after another. Most of the wrongful convictions based on bite marks were overturned only after DNA evidence identified other suspects. But all the evidence from the McCrory case has been destroyed, including the nightgown worn by Bonds, her fingernail clippings and perhaps most crucially the hairs she clutched in her hands.
“The current appeal process is moving terribly slow, it seems,” McCrory wrote. “A case that has only one forensic evidence issue, and then it is fully recanted by the one who offered it originally, leaves no path to fairness except a new trial. Yet we are having to fight every inch of the way.”
It was revealed at that recent hearing that the current district attorney had offered to allow McCrory to plead guilty and leave prison. McCrory refused to admit to the crime he has spent decades saying he did not commit. And so he remains behind bars.
Walt Merrell, the current district attorney in Covington County, did not return calls or emails seeking comment for this story.
“I did not accept the plea deal last April because I did not murder Julie!” McCrory wrote to AL.com in July. “It wasn’t something I had to ponder – it was in immediate ‘No.’ It would have forever closed the door to our obtaining answers as to what really happened. We want to know the truth, not cover over everything so it will be forgotten.”
McCrory’s attorneys have asked for a hearing before the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. The family said getting McCrory out of prison is only part of their goal. They believe the person who killed Bonds has never been held responsible.
“Even if Charles got out tomorrow, we’re not done,” said his sister, Renay Smith. “We’ll still be doing this in 10 years if we can’t figure out who did this.”