Call for federal investigation into plea deal

Many understand why Mickey Wright's family reached the breaking point inside and outside the courtroom Thursday.

The code enforcement officer was not just murdered. His body was burned, dismembered, and crushed in old cars. But Dale Mardis will only serve a dozen years in prison.

"We just observed, commemorated Dr. King, who was assassinated in this city, a man who stood for justice, and here injustice at it's worst," says SCLC President Rev. Dwight Montgomery.

Montgomery believes the plea bargain was bogus.

"And I believe there needs to be a justice department investigation," says Montgomery.

"If we did have a federal investigation, barring additional evidence, I'm confident their conclusion would be the same as ours," says Shelby Co. District Attorney General Bill Gibbons.

The D.A. contends a plea deal was the only way to guarantee prison time.

"This week, essentially the bottom fell out of our theory that this was a pre-meditated act," says Gibbons.

He says Dale Mardis may have ended up with less time if this case had gone to trial. He may have even been acquitted. But Reverend Montgomery isn't sold.

"He should have received no less than a life sentence without parole," says Montgomery.

That's something that may have been easier for the Wright family, and the community, to accept.

Rev. Montgomery says he will work next week to get the feds involved.

Meantime, Gibbons, who says he is a member of the SCLC, wishes Montgomery would have called him first.


to email Jason Miles.