REMAINING SUSPECTS MAKE PLEA DEALS IN 2016 WALKER COUNTY MURDER CASE
Two of the suspects connected to the death of 19-year-old Nicholas Hawkins made plea deals and were sentenced Tuesday, Sept. 10.
Hawkins was reported missing on February 13, 2016. His body was found three days later. Dora police said when he last spoke to his family, he mentioned someone was trying to hurt him.
Shortly after Hawkins went missing, Joshua Adam Reese, a friend of Hawkins’s, was questioned and later charged with the murder. He pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced on Sept. 9 to 30 years in prison.
Hawkings’s grandparents told reporters that after being without him for more than three years, they are relieved to now be at the end of this trial.
“I’m going to borrow this from somebody: It’s when you’re in the swimming pool and the bully holds you under just to see what your face looks like when you come up out of that water,” said his grandmother Pam Hawkins. “That’s what it felt like, but you know what, we can breathe today and we are at peace.”
Danny Lee Jarvis and Cory Connor also faced murder charges. Tuesday they pleaded to abuse of a corpse and hindering prosecution, and received 15 years each. Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair said part of the plea agreement was that if any evidence surfaced that they knew beforehand that it was going to happen or they took part in hurting Hawkins, then the agreement would be off. He said investigators were thorough and had more than 30 witnesses that would testify in this case, and became confident that Jarvis and Connor did not know it was going to happen. Adair also said that drug use and addiction was the core issue behind what happened.
“As a matter of fact, before this murder, before the actual shooting, there is no doubt that they were all getting high, had been getting high most of the day with each other,” Adair said.
Pam Hawkins said she and her husband Harry are satisfied with the charges, and that through the anger, they also felt compassion for Reese during the sentencing, because that’s what they said Nicholas would have wanted.
“We all know that Nicholas made some bad choices too that took him to the place that he was, but I know that if he can be here today, he would forgive all these people because that’s how Nick’s heart was,” Hawkins said. “And we loved him deeply and we miss him more than words can say.”
Tessa Wise, Colton Echols, and Lawanda Reese were charged with hindering prosecution in this case. The charges against Echols were dropped in August 2016.
Pam Hawkins said her family can now try to move on and remember Nicholas as the person they knew him as.
“Nicholas was very intelligent,” Hawkins said. “He played the guitar and he wrote songs. And he rode horses. We all showed horses together, he and his older brother. And actually before he got murdered, he had picked out a new coat that he was gonna start breaking in, and I’m trying to do that, get that done for him now.”