HUNTSVILLE – After just a few hours of deliberating earlier this month, the first jury to hear a criminal case since the COVID-19 pandemic delivered a guilty verdict to a man on trial for copper theft.
James Lemons is now facing a maximum sentence of two years in a state jail.
Lemons was arrested for stealing copper from air conditioning coils belonging to Extreme Comfort, a local air conditioning business. After the first arrest in June of 2019, prosecutors said that Lemons returned to the same business and stole more copper on at least four additional nights. The thefts were captured by surveillance cameras, and Lemons was identified by Detective Kevin Hammond of the Huntsville Police Department.
“Copper theft, especially from air conditioners and construction sites, has been a rising crime trend that our office takes seriously,” Walker County District Attorney Will Durham said. “Surveillance cameras at a business help our local detectives to identify and the DA’s office to successfully prosecute thieves in Walker County. The next time this defendant gets arrested for stealing, we will be able to enhance his punishment to a third-degree felony, where significant prison time is available.”
This trial was the first felony trial to take place in Walker County since March 2020, when COVID restrictions began. Jury selection took place at the Walker County Storm Shelter, and prosecutors say that the jury pool turnout was comparable to the pre-COVID rate.
“Mr. Lemons has been stealing from Walker County residents for far too long, and I am thankful that the jury was able to send him that message with their guilty verdict,” said assistant district attorney Phillip Faseler, who was the lead prosecutor in the case.
The case was heard in the 278th District Court in front of Judge Hal Ridley.