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The podcast is hosted by Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi, host of Investigation Discovery’s True Conviction, and Scott Weinberger, Emmy award-winning investigative journalist and former deputy sheriff.
Mobile District Attorney, Ashley Rich, was interviewed in regards to the case, ‘Escape from Dearman,’ a murder case that left five people dead in a house in Citronelle, Ala.
WKRG News 5 brought you the story back on Aug. 23, 2016, and we will be revisiting the story in this article.
Joseph Turner and Shannon Randall had just had a baby, Darren 3-months-old at the time, and were living in a home in Citronelle, Ala. According to the podcast, the couple had been together for years and it was a “loving relationship.”
Laneta Lester, Turner’s sister, and Derrick Dearmon were in a relationship as well but the podcast hosts claim that a lot of domestic abuse was occurring. Due to this, Lester decided to move out of the house she shared with Dearmon and into her brother’s house.
Chelsea and Justin Reed were friends of Turner and Randall and needed a place to stay, so they were also staying in the house. “They had just found out several weeks prior that she was pregnant and they were ecstatic,” said Rich.
All five residents of the home agreed that Dearmon could come over, but he could not stay. According to Rich, his records show that he had a violent temper and, one time, he assaulted his mother.
On Friday, Aug. 19, all of the residents decided to watch a movie and then head to bed. When they did, Dearman came to the house and was told he had to leave, which he did. Dearman showed up just three hours later back at the house, where Turner told him he was no longer welcome on the property.
Randall decided to call the Citronelle Police Department and she told them she did not want Dearman in her home. The officers patrolled the surrounding area but did not find Dearman.
At 3 a.m., Dearman returned to the house and knocked on Laneta’s window. “He obviously knew that Joseph and Sharron were done with him, but he also knew there was someone in the house that would likely let him in,” said Weinberger.
According to Rich, when he returned to the home at 3 a.m. he saw an ax in a tree and decided, “if I can’t have Laneta, they can’t have her either.”
Dearman took the ax to everyone in the house except for Laneta and Darren, which he kidnapped. He also shot each person in the head. Shannon Randall, Joseph Turner, Robert Brown, Chelsea Reed, Justin Reed, and the unborn baby of the Reeds were all deceased when police arrived at the scene.
Dearman then drove him, Lenita, and Darren to his sister’s house in Greene County, Miss. They left the sisters and dropped Darren off at Dearman’s friend’s parents’ house. They then went to the friend’s trailer and fell asleep.
Once they woke up and picked up Darren, they went to Dearman’s father’s house. Laneta saw an opportunity to escape while Dearman was talking to his father, so she and her nephew get in the car and drive straight to the Citronelle Police Department.
Dearman went to the Greene County Police Department where he attempted to turn himself in for not paying child support, but police determined there was no warrant out for him. His father then told him he needed to turn himself in for murder, at which point the police took him into custody.
“Through all this, I truly thought everyone was trying to kidnap my girlfriend and hurt her. After everything, I told my girlfriend to grab the baby and get in the car. She did so out of fear of me,” said Dearman. “I drove running from the people I thought were trying to get us and hurt us. When I came down from the drugs and realized what happened I turned myself in.”
Rich said her biggest battle in court was to make sure the jury understood that he told the story to the police multiple times so he should not be able to hide behind the fact that he was on drugs. Dearman decided to defend himself during the case but was ultimately found guilty of 12 counts of capital murder. He was sentenced to death.
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