1988 murder suspect released on bond
Two days before the 20th anniversary of the execution-style slaying of Roger Lee Shifflett, 38, at the now-demolished Southwind Gas and Grocery on Route 20 south, the man accused of his 1988 murder was granted $50,000 bond today in court.
Alvin Lee "Butch" Morris, 67, (pictured right) who's been in jail since his May 15 arrest, appeared on video in Albemarle General District Court. Present in court was Roger Shifflett's widow, Barbara, (left, background) who married Morris a year after her first husband's June 20, 1988, murder, and Morris' mother, Margaret Morris (left, foreground).
The bond hearing opened with Butch Morris' attorney, Dana Slater, informing the court and Morris of her potential conflict of interest because she was working as an Albemarle County Police officer when Shifflett was gunned down. Morris, on closed-circuit video, said he had already been informed that Slater was once an employee of the police force trying to solve the murder and waived that concern.
Citing Morris' lack of previous convictions, his lifelong residence in the area, family connections, and the antiquity of the offense, Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford agreed to a $50,000 bond secured by his mother's property. County records assess Margaret Morris' house and six-acre property in the 1700 block of Lindsay Road at $217,900.
Butch and Barbara Morris live down the road in the 1600 block of Lindsay Road, which the widowed Barbara Shifflett bought less than a year after her first husband's murder. Barbara Shifflett Morris, a secretary at Stone Robinson Elementary, and Margaret Morris declined to comment after the bond hearing.
"To me, $50,000 is too low," says Jody Shifflett, Roger Shifflett's son by a previous marriage who was 15 when his father died. "I think it should have been much higher with first-degree murder and the other [robbery and use of a firearm] charges."
Jody Shifflett predicts Morris will be convicted and wonders one thing about the release of the man accused of killing his father: "Why did his mama have to bail him out?"
Butch Morris is scheduled for a preliminary hearing June 26.