The Grimes County Grand Jury indicted James Allen Bundage of Stoneham for the September 24, 2012 Capital Murder of Patrick David McHale, also of Stoneham. Bundage is currently incarcerated in the Grimes County Jail.
Bundage and McHale were neighbors on County Road 359. Bundage is accused of shooting McHale with a 30-30 rifle while McHale called 911 to report Bundage coming on to his property armed. McHale was killed while on the phone with the Grimes County Sheriff’s Department. Bundage had approached McHale and his wife on their property earlier in the day and began arguing but left when McHale called the Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff’s Deputies responded but were unable to locate Bundage at that time.
Bundage was originally charged with First Degree Murder which carries a possible punishment range of 5 years to life in prison. Capital Murder has a possible punishment of either life without parole or the death penalty. “After I sat down and listened to the 911 call and James Bundage’s statement to law enforcement, I concluded that the reason for the murder was retaliation against McHale for calling the Sherriff’s Department. When a person commits murder in the course of retaliation, that constitutes Capital Murder” explained District Attorney Tuck McLain. McLain went on to say “I contacted Pat’s family and discussed the possibility of asking the Grand Jury to elevate the murder charge to capital murder and they agreed. We also discussed the possible punishment range associated with the higher charge. I explained that I would not seek the death penalty if the Grand Jury indicted Bundage for Capital Murder. The family acquiesced to my decision.”
McLain explained “To assess the death penalty, the jury must answer two questions. The answers to the questions then determine the sentence to be assessed. After a review of the evidence at this time, I do not think there is sufficient evidence to believe a jury would answer those questions in such a way that the death penalty could be assessed and supported on appeal.”
McLain has already notified the District Judges that he would not be seeking the death penalty. “It is important for the Judges to know whether we are seeking the death penalty as it affects who and how many attorneys may be appointed” McLain said. “Additionally, a death penalty case is much more complex, expensive and time consuming on the courts. Although I do not consider those factors in making my determination as to whether or not to seek the death penalty, it is important that the Judges be aware of my decision as soon as possible for their scheduling and budgeting.” McLain said.
Bundage will most likely appear in court sometime in January for his arraignment. The case has not been assigned to a court as of this date. Bundage is represented by Huntsville attorney Frank Blezek.