Defense attorney collapses, dies during closing arguments in murder trial

By: Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Updated:

FLORENCE, Ala. - An Alabama defense attorney is being remembered for her dedication to her clients after she collapsed Thursday while delivering closing arguments in a murder trial. 

Jean Darby, a well-known defense attorney in Lauderdale County, died Saturday at Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital, according to the Times-Daily in Florence. She was 64 years old. 

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Darby was in the middle of closing arguments in the trial of Alfonzo Jarmon when witnesses said she appeared to stumble. She caught herself on the jury box, then collapsed, the newspaper said.

WHNT News 19 in Huntsville reported that Darby remarked to jurors moments before her collapse about how tiring the case must have been for them because it had exhausted her as well. 

Law enforcement officers, along with a juror who was a registered nurse, performed CPR until paramedics arrived, the Times-Daily reported. Darby was taken to the hospital, where doctors suspected she may have suffered a brain aneurysm or a stroke. 

Her cause of death was not immediately known. 

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Jarmon, 34, was accused of fatally shooting 77-year-old Charles Hugh Perkins on April 29, 2016, in the yard of Perkins’ home. The men lived next door to one another. 

The Times-Daily reported that witnesses testified they saw Jarmon shove the elderly man before grabbing his hand and pulling a gun. Jarmon shot Perkins in the head.

Jurors, who told the trial judge on Friday that they could proceed without Darby, deliberated for about 30 minutes before finding Jarmon guilty of murder, the newspaper said. Lauderdale County Judge Gil Self appointed attorneys to represent Jarmon in Darby’s place. 

Jarmon faces life in prison when he is sentenced in December. 

Colleagues mourned the loss of Darby, who was described as a humble woman who did her best to serve others.

District Judge Carole Medley, who was at the hospital awaiting Darby’s test results before her death, described her as “one of the most well-respected and well-thought-of attorneys in (the Florence) area.”

“She worked extraordinarily hard to be sure anybody she represented had all the rights the law allows,” former prosecutor and Judge Mike Jones told the Times-Daily

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