Leggett found guilty in 2006 beating death

Published 6:00 am Monday, March 3, 2008

Michael Leggett will now spend the rest of his life behind barsafter a jury found him guilty of murder Friday in the Oct. 11,2006, death of Jewel Duane Douglas.

The panel of four women and eight men returned the guiltyverdict after barely an hour and a half of deliberation following afour-day trial in Lincoln County Circuit Court.

Following the verdict, Leggett, 33, was sentenced as a habitualcriminal to life in prison with no chance of parole. He was alsofined $10,000 for medical and final expenses for the victim’sfamily, as well as $2,000 in court fees.

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Leggett was accused along with Robert Mark Culbertson, 32, inthe beating death of Douglas, 36, of 1831 Douglas Trail on thenight of Oct. 11, 2006. Culbertson, who testified as a prosecutionwitness, said that on the night of the murder, Leggett had been ina “hyperactive rage” and raving about a wallet he said Douglas hadstolen from him.

Culbertson said when Leggett and Douglas came running from thetrailer where they had been arguing, he threw the tire tool atDouglas when Leggett yelled, “Get him!” He said he believed it hadhit Douglas in the head and knocked him to his knees.

Leggett, who was in pursuit, proceeded to get on top of Douglasand beat him in the back of the head with the tire iron, Culbertsonsaid.

Culbertson is scheduled to stand trial March 4 on a murdercharge for his role in the incident, but court officials said itmay be pushed back to accommodate another case.

During Leggett’s trial, defense attorneys Joe Fernald and JasonTate worked on cross-examination to poke holes in the prosecution’scase and tried to point the finger at Culbertson as the one whoactually struck the death blow, based upon his own testimony aboutthrowing the tire tool. Fernald said that was the only thing thatwas consistent about Culbertson’s statement.

“Culbertson didn’t know anyone there,” Fernald told jurorsduring his closing statements. “I don’t know what his game was, butyou can take him for what he’s worth. I don’t believe a word hesaid.”

The defense had put Leggett on the witness stand and tried topoint out the perceived inconsistencies in witnesses’ testimonies.Leggett testified, contrary to what Culbertson had said, that heand Douglas had come to an agreement before Douglas left thetrailer to get the wallet. He said at that point was whenCulbertson threw a tire tool that the defense claimed was the causeof the head trauma that eventually killed Douglas.

In their closing statements before the jury, Assistant DistrictAttorneys Diane Jones and Brendan Adams pointed out that Leggetthad gone to Douglas’ residence with knives in the waistline of hispants, saying that was evidence he was up to no good.

Adams also reminded the jury that the tire iron, which belongedto Culbertson’s girlfriend, had no other reason to be on Douglas’property except by being transported there in the car that broughtthe two men to the home the night of the murder.

Fernald expected the verdict to be appealed.