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Beulah man sentenced to life in prison after 2019 murder of man whose body was found at bottom of well

Beulah man sentenced to life in prison after 2019 murder of man whose body was found at bottom of well

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A Beulah man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Tuesday after a Lee County jury found him guilty of murder intentional in May, according to the Lee County District Attorney’s Office.

Hubert Timothy Sprayberry, 60, was found guilty of murder intentional in the death of James Edmund Clarke, who was stabbed 22 times, shot three times in the head, had cinderblocks tied around his feet and head and had a plastic bag duct taped around his head when his body was found dumped in a well in December 2019. Clarke was 72 years old at the time of his murder.

Investigators with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office initially treated Clarke’s disappearance as a missing persons case before the man’s body was found, 10 days after he was reported missing, at the bottom of a 25-foot well on Sprayberry’s property.

During opening statements of Sprayberry’s trial, Lee County Assistant District Attorney Garrett Saucer said Sprayberry was responsible for the intentional murder of Clarke, and after Sprayberry shot him, stabbed him, tied cinderblocks to his body and dumped it in a well, Sprayberry was packing up his belongings and getting ready to leave town “before the cops could find what he was hiding.”

Over the course of the investigation, samples of thin, braided rope were found to be used to tie the cinderblocks to the victim, and a similar rope type was found in Sprayberry’s van. Additionally, duct tape and a box full of knives were recovered from the van.

Sabrina Brown, Sprayberry’s sister who lived with him, testified during the trial that Sprayberry threatened to hurt her if she talked to the police after Clarke had been reported missing in December 2019 and told her to stay away from the house.

Cody Campbell, Sprayberry’s neighbor at the time of Clarke’s disappearance, testified that he saw Sprayberry shooting a small handgun in Sprayberry’s backyard about a month before authorities arrived at Sprayberry’s house, and three .25 caliber bullets consistent with a small handgun were recovered from Clarke’s head when authorities lifted him from the well.

Along with Clarke’s body, a knife was also recovered from the bottom of the well, which Saucer said was likely the weapon used to stab the victim.

“The cause of death was a combination of multiple gunshot wounds and multiple stab wounds,” Saucer said during closing statements of the trial. “I submit to you [Sprayberry] lured Mr. Clarke to the bathroom or bedroom of the house, killed him in the house, stabbed him in the back, and then for good measure once he got his hands on a gun, shot him in the head to finish him off.”

The jury deliberated for about four hours before returning with a guilty verdict. After Sprayberry’s conviction, Saucer told the court that Sprayberry had nine prior felony convictions and asked that he be sentenced as a habitual offender, according to the Lee County District Attorney’s Office.

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