Saturday, November 6, 2010

Murder defendant James Hutto led from Jefferson County courtroom after expletive-filled rant

Published: Wednesday, November 03, 2010, 9:20 PM ??? Updated: Wednesday, November 03, 2010, 10:19 PM

James Hutto was escorted from a Jefferson County courtroom today amid an expletive-filled rant, before a judge ruled prosecutors could seek an indictment against him in his aunt's beating death.

Hutto, 39, is charged in the Sept. 15 death of the aunt, Virginia Rardon.

Rardon's death came in the middle of what police say was a two-state spree that started with the death of Ethel Winstead Simpson, 81, whose body was found on a Mississippi hog farm.

Hutto was arrested Sept. 17 after Auburn resident Mark Cox, 56, told Lee County sheriff's deputies that Hutto had robbed him, hit him in the head with a rock and stabbed him repeatedly with a pitchfork.

Now held in the Jefferson County Jail, Hutto will be sent to Mississippi to face a capital murder charge in Simpson's death.

He also has been indicted in Lee County on charges of robbery and attempted murder in the attack on Cox.

Rardon, 68, was found in the bedroom of her east Birmingham home with facial fractures, 18 broken ribs and a broken throat bone, prosecutor Laura Poston said during today's preliminary hearing.

Hutto showed up at his aunt's house on Sept. 14, acting erratically, according to testimony today from John Tanks, a Birmingham police detective.

Lois Rutledge, who lived with Rardon, told Tanks that Hutto asked for a ride to pick up a Mercedes Benz. He said it had been given to him by someone who had declared him the "Chosen One," Tanks testified.

The car belonged to Simpson, police said.

Rardon became nervous about Hutto staying in her house, Rutledge told police. On Sept. 15, Rutledge drove to Walker County to get her son and his fiancee, leaving Rardon home alone with Hutto, Tanks testified.

A woman who had been dating Hutto told police that he came to her house around 9 p.m. that night. His right hand was swollen and he had scratch marks on his arm, she told police.

Rardon's battered body was found early Sept. 16.

Cox told Lee County authorities that he stopped for fuel on Sept. 17. A gas-station employee Cox knew said a man was there saying he wanted to buy land. The man was Hutto, who still was driving the Mercedes, Tanks testified.

Hutto attacked Cox while the Auburn man was showing some land he had for sale, Cox told a Lee County sheriff's investigator. Hutto was arrested soon after, driving the Mercedes.

Hutto told police Cox killed both women, and Hutto killed Cox to avenge the deaths. When told Cox was still alive, Hutto declined to say anything else, Tanks testified.

But the 6-foot-1, 230-pound defendant was very vocal during his brief time in court today.

Secured by the standard handcuffs and leg and waist chains, Hutto managed to flip his middle finger at relatives before sitting next to his lawyer, Glennon Threatt.

District Judge Sheldon Watkins told Hutto to settle down. Hutto began cursing, continuing to do so as a bailiff took him back to jail.

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