Man convicted in arson deaths

Published 9:20 pm Wednesday, November 4, 2009

James Linden Sheffield, 28, was convicted Wednesday afternoon in the deaths of a Maplesville man and his young son.

The jury found Sheffield guilty of murder in the slaying of Charles “Chucky” Edward Morrow II. He was also convicted on the lesser charge of manslaughter in the death of 3-year-old Charles Edward Morrow III.

Morrow and his son were killed after their one-story wood frame home on County Road 802 was set on fire around 8 a.m. on Dec. 10, 2003. The eldest Morrow was found slumped over the boy as if he were trying to shield him from the flames, investigators said.

Prosecutors alleged that Sheffield set the blaze after a disagreement with Mr. Morrow over missing bulldog puppies.

“This case was extremely important to the district attorney’s office … especially given the age of the young victim,” said James Houts, chief assistant district attorney. “We are grateful that the jury was able to see that James Sheffield ended the life of a young boy over a pack of dogs. It was the right verdict.”

Houts also commended the Alabama Fire Marshal’s Office and the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office for their work on the investigation and collecting evidence.

Sheffield’s attorney Robert Bowers declined to comment after the verdict, saying it was his longtime policy not to discuss cases with the media.

Sheffield was arrested in July 2007. He is scheduled to appear before Circuit Court Judge John Bush for sentencing on Dec. 10.