MOBILE, Ala. — Grand jurors can consider evidence against a Mississippi man held in the gun and ax slayings of five people, a judge ruled Monday after authorities laid out details of the killings at a hearing.
The decision means Derrick Dearman, 28, of Leakesville, Mississippi, will remain jailed without bond in the killings, which occurred in August at an isolated home in Citronelle.
Dearman is charged with multiple counts of murder in the deaths of the five, who were shot and struck with an ax in a rural home where the man’s estranged girlfriend, Laneta Lester, was staying.
Dearman has pleaded not guilty.
Testimony at Monday’s hearing — attended by about a dozen relatives of victims — showed that Lester was asleep on an air mattress when Dearman showed up and was told to go away by one of the home’s occupants. Dearman returned later and awoke Lester.
“She went outside and spoke to him for a short period of time and told him, ‘We’re done,'” said detective Clark Bolton of the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.
Dearman left only to return and break into the home, Bolton testified. Lester was awakened by the sounds of gunfire coming from the room of her brother, Joseph Adam Turner, and his wife Shannon Randall.
“She gets up and runs to the rear of the home to get a phone and realizes Adam and Shannon had been shot,” said Bolton.
Dearman went through the house shooting and hacking people before abducting Lester and a child from the house, Bolton said. Lester witnessed at least part of each slaying except one, according to the detective.
Dearman and Lester, who dated on and off for about 10 years, made several stops before Dearman’s father told him to surrender and Lester left in a car with the baby and went to the Citronelle Police Department, testimony showed.
Under questioning from defense lawyer Jim Vollmer, Clark said Lester apparently didn’t try to escape from Dearman earlier out of concern for the child, who was unharmed. Investigators don’t think Lester had any role in the slayings, Clark said.
Dearman blamed the slayings on his drug use in comments to the media after his arrest.