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Friday, August 18, 2023

The Bobby Wilson Murder Case

     About 6,000 people lived in Spanish Fort, Alabama, a Gulf Coast suburb of Mobile on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. In the early morning hours of August 11, 2007, Spanish Fort police officer Steve McGough pulled into Wilson's Service Center for gas and a cup of coffee. When McGough walked into the convenience store he found the owner, Arthur "Bobby" Wilson, slumped over the counter. The officer grabbed hold of the bleeding 71-year-old and helped him onto a chair. Mr. Wilson had been beaten in the head with a blunt object, and robbed. As the officer called in the robbery and assault, the victim made "gurgling sounds" and mumbled incoherently. Four months later Mr. Wilson died from his head wounds. The victim had been unable to describe or name his assailant. The robbery/assault case had turned into a murder.

     In December 2008, shortly after Bobby Wilson's death, Baldwin County prosecutor Michael Plyant charged Leslie Eric Buzbee with capital murder in the case. Police arrested the 23-year-old and hauled him to the Baldwin County Corrections Center in nearby Bay Minette, Alabama. The murder suspect remained in custody without bail.

     Detectives learned that days before the robbery/assault, Mr. Buzbee, who lived ten minutes from the service station and knew the victim well, had asked Mr. Wilson to cash a check. According to the police theory of the case, when Bobby Wilson refused to cash Buzbee's check the second time the suspect assaulted him with an aluminum baseball bat the victim kept on the premises. The authorities were convinced that Buzbee, high on cocaine and in desperate need of money, assaulted Mr. Wilson out of anger and the need for cash to support his drug habit.

     Leslie Buzbee's trial got underway on May 4, 2009 in Bay Minette. His attorney, John Beck, exploited the fact the prosecution, without the murder weapon, physical evidence linking the defendant to the crime scene, a confession or an eyewitness, had an extremely weak circumstantial case. As it turned out, Attorney Beck was right. Four weeks later the judge declared a mistrial after the jury could not reach an unanimous verdict.

    Following the hung jury, prosecutor Plyant decided to try again. The second trial, which commenced in August 2009, ended prematurely when the judge declared a mistrial on a procedural issue.

     On August 8, 2009, the Baldwin County prosecutor took a third run at Leslie Buzbee. Without new incriminating evidence the third jury after four hours of deliberation found the 25-year-old defendant not guilty. Leslie Buzbee, having been incarcerated in the Baldwin County Correction Center since December 2008, walked free. (The double jeopardy clause of the U.S. Constitution protected Buzbee, regardless of what new evidence might surface, from being tried a fourth time for Mr. Wilson's murder.)

     Following the not guilty verdict, in response to a reporter's question about whether the authorities would re-open the murder case, prosecutor Plyant said, "The investigation is done because we tried the person we believe did the crime."

     The Wilson murder case, from an investigative point of view, produced a suspect, but didn't feature enough hard evidence to support a conviction. Had Bobby Wilson, before he died, been able to communicate with the police, the outcome of this case might have been different.

     On December 31, 2012, officers with the Mobile Police Department arrested Leslie Eric Buzbee in connection with a series of residential burglaries and thefts from vehicles. Officers found cocaine and drug paraphernalia in his car. At the time of his arrest he was the subject of several burglary warrants issued out of Baldwin County. He was back in jail, but not for murder.

16 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. "The investigation is done because we tried the person we believe did the crime." What about the unidentified bloody fingerprint on the check? Oh well........

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    1. Good point. Very good point. They can't close the case. They must check that print against IAFIS. In David Westerfield's murder trial (San Diego, 2002), there was also a print at the crime scene which was ignored as it didn't match the suspect.

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    2. I think this is key.... the “investigators” did a shotty job. They released the crime scene within hours. They didn’t follow any protocol...evidence was just cleaned away. I think Buzbee was an easy suspect & they got tunnel vision. Because they failed to properly process the scene he was the only one they could go after so they didn’t look completely incompetent. I went to school with Buzbee and he had addiction issues in high school and from what I understand from friends his drug use only got worse. To say he is an innocent man with his record...well you can’t but with the amount of violence at the scene... I’d say the murder was personal...more than just Mr. Wilson wouldn’t cash a check. I think if the investigators had actually done their job a lot more could have been learned from the crime scene such as blood splatter... with the directional spray and blows an estimated height could have been determined as well as the build of the person wielding the bat... Buzbee was found innocent bc there was no real evidence intact there was barely any circumstantial... Kill someone over not cashing a check... there are a lot of places and other people that would have cashed the check... seems like a very weak motive for the amount of damage done to Mr. Wilson

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    3. Plot twist the cop and ex make employee set it up. Just my opinion

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    4. My suspicion is on the drug dealer……

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  3. He escaped justice for far too long. I doubt her parents really feel that the law aided them to the best of their ability. What about the uncle? The money due to their daughter's scholarship fund? Complete mess of an investigation.

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  4. There are so many unsolved murders, but even one wrong conviction merits beyond a reasonable doubt

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  5. Didn’t Bobby Wilson utter the word “watch” at the crime scene? That should provide a clue, if only someone could figure out what he meant.

    I also seem to remember that the crime scene was cleaned up pretty quickly, potentially destroying evidence.

    Was Eric’s claim ever confirmed that the wad of money at his home was payment from his job?

    His subsequent criminal activities make it plausible that he would have robbed Mr Wilson. On the other hand, he apparently hasn’t been guilty of any violent criminal acts, despite his drug use.

    There was also no evidence linking David Westerfield to the crime scenes in his murder trail. And there was strong evidence that he wasn’t there (the police dogs, the insects, and cell-phone records). But he was convicted anyway, and sentenced to death.

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    1. Just because Erick had a troubled past doesn't make him a murder, we would all be guilty of something then,
      I believe it was the x male employee that was there that morning did it,
      He never gave reason why he was there so early, and only an employee would know how much money Mr Wilson kept in the office.
      I think the cops did a very piss pore job investigating the crime, and with todays technology they should be able to find the person who left the print, they didn't even print the two employees.
      They stop searching and spent there time making a case aginst a troubled teen, whom the town claimed was a troubled child.
      And it was said the money they found in his house was his dads.
      Stay out of trouble if you live in a small town, because the investigators have no clue what they're doing.

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  6. Personally I would like the finger prints of the police officer who for some reason was the first person to come across Mr Wilson. Who decided to give the okay for the crime scene to be cleaned up so early. Very suspicious indeed. The person accused of the murder is completely innocent in my eyes. Lazy investigators, I blame them.

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    1. Totally agree! I think the family knows more...

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    2. I just saw this case last night on "Paula Zahn," and I unequivocally agree without a doubt that as long as the fingerprint is unidentified they have absolutely NO case against anyone. Identifying that print would at least put things into prospective and fingerprinting that cop would be my first priority!!!

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  7. I live just a few miles from where this occured. I even had the pleasure to speak with Mr. Wilson several times. I just boggled my mind that someone would do this to him.

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  8. What about the first 2 people at the scene? Sorry that’s most suspicious to me from the get go. How come they were not looked at and questioned more?

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  9. Between that Ladd and the police officer did it I’m sorry to many red flags from everyone. That fingerprint is the key. But install security cameras trust no one I’m sorry a good heart gets you hurt or in this case killed. I pray this family finds the killer. Another thing why the hell everybody doing so much lying? I can see the drug dealer doing what he did he knows his customers so he seen that 32k reward money he bout to have the block jumping. Buzzbee had to many red flags. Was he going throw withdrawals doing that time I seen ppl get real angry when they need the money for that drug plus he already mad his girlfriend left with their son. Idk to May red flags from everyone. The ex employee you show up 2 in the morning to the hospital you was coming to finish the job. The police officer there at that time yea we know they don’t make much so he had an easy way to get away with it with no security cameras and you know how early he opens. Just to many red flags from ppl.

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