Two more arrests have been made in the murder of Alabama lawyer Blake Lazenby, bringing the total to four. The latest arrests include a man who, according to our reports, played a peculiar role in a divorce case that was ongoing at the time of Blake Lazenby's death.
Earnest James Files Jr., 56, of Alexander City, and Charles Andrew Joseph Hendrix, 21, of Birmingham, had initial court appearances on Tuesday before Talladega County Circuit Judge Julian King. Reports the Talladega Daily Home:
Files was formally charged with one count each of criminal solicitation of murder and criminal conspiracy to commit murder. Hendrix was charged with two counts of capital murder committed during a burglary in the first degree. Hendrix was also charged with one count of theft of property in the first degree, for allegedly stealing a 2009 GMC Yukon that belonged to Lazenby.
King set Files’ bond at $1 million. Hendrix’s bond in the theft case was set at $500,000, but because he is facing capital charges, he will not be allowed to post a bond on the murder counts.
Previously arrested in the case were Ocie Lee Lynch and Calvin McCall Haynes, both of Birmingham.
Files is by far the most interesting figure arrested in the case so far. That's because his name appeared in a divorce case that Geanne Elder Lazeby had filed against Blake Lazenby. The divorce case was ongoing at the time Blake Lazenby was murdered.
We first raised Files' name in a post titled "Did Hardball Tactics In a Divorce Case Lead to the Murder of Alabama Lawyer?" From that report:
The Birmingham firm of Smith Spires & Peddy made an appearance, on June 6, 2011--almost three years after the case had begun. SSP lawyers A. Joe Peddy and Tamera Erskine joined the fray on Blake Lazenby's behalf, even though neither they nor their firm appear to have experience in divorce law.
They filed the subpoenas on non parties, and to our eyes, the documents appear to constitute a "fishing expedition," at best. At worst, they appear to have been used for nasty, strong-arm purposes. Who were recipients of the subpoenas, and what information was sought? Here is a summary:
* Custodian of Medical Records, Alabama Women's Specialist, Birmingham--All records pertaining to the treatment and/or diagnosis of Geanne E. Lazenby, including services rendered and financial records.
* Custodian of Medical Records, Craddock Clinic, Sylacauga--All records pertaining to the treatment and/or diagnosis of Geanne E. Lazenby, including services rendered and financial records.
* Custodian of Records, Coosa County Sheriff's Office--All police reports and investigative documents related to any allegations or claims made by Geanne E. Lazenby against Earnest Files, DOB: 10/31/1955.
We found the subpoena regarding Earnest Files to be particularly odd:
The information sought in the third subpoena is truly baffling. Who in the heck is Earnest Files, of Coosa County, Alabama, and what was the relevance of any police reports Mrs. Lazenby had filed about him?
We checked the Web site for the Coosa County Sheriff's Office and found this item dated April 1, 2011:
Earnest James Files Jr. of Kellyton, AL was arrested on charges of Harassing Communication and Criminal Trespassing. He was processed and released on bond to await trial.
Did Geanne Lazenby file a report regarding Mr. Files? If so, why did her husband's lawyers want the information--and how did they intend to use it? Why was it a factor in the Lazenby v. Lazenby divorce case?
The Talladega Daily Home shines new light on Earnest Files' connections to Geanne Lazenby:
According to documents obtained through the Coosa County Sheriff’s Department, Geanne Lazenby, who was living in Alexander City, filed a harassing communications and criminal trespass complaint against Files on March 28, 2011. According to her complaint, Files called her cell phone more than 100 times in less than a week, including once while a deputy was taking her statement. She said she had repeatedly told him not to call her, and added that he had visited her home on two occasions in spite of being told not to come by, either.
Files turned himself in for harassing communications and posted a $500 bond on April 1.
The case was dismissed “with leave to reinstate” on May 25, and Files was ordered to have no further contact with Geanne Lazenby.
Why were Blake Lazenby's lawyers interested in a criminal complaint that Geanne Lazenby filed against Earnes Files? Why was that relevant to the Lazenby v. Lazenby divorce case?
We still don't have the answers to those questions. But we figured the murder investigation eventually would turn in Mr. Files' direction. And now that, in fact, has happened.