Huntsville man pleads guilty to reckless murder of retired Air Force veteran

Huntsville man pleads guilty to reckless murder of retired Air Force veteran

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A Huntsville man is now serving a life sentence for crashing his car into a retired Air Force veteran.

Monday, Antonio Fearn pleaded guilty to a count of reckless murder in the death of retired Lt. Col. Michael Redding.

As part of a plea deal, Judge James P. Smith sentenced him to life in prison. Fearn will be eligible for parole.

In August 2018, Fearn was fleeing University of Alabama in Huntsville Police when he ran through the intersection of Holmes Avenue and Sparkman Drive.

Redding was sitting on his motorcycle at the intersection. Fearn crashed his car into Redding, and Redding was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Redding helped oversee a team of 170 people responsible for designing, developing, testing, and fielding interceptors that defend the U.S. from ballistic missiles. He worked as deputy program manager for Deputy Ground-Based Interceptor at the Missile Defense Agency. Before that, he was the deputy product manager for THAAD Ground Components.

Madison County Assistant District Attorney Shauna Barnett said Fearn had THC in his system at the time of the crash.

UAH police were searching for Fearn in connection to a string of breaking and entering’s on campus. As part of the plea deal, those charges were not prosecuted.

In November 2015, Fearn pleaded guilty to a breaking and entering charge that would have put him behind bars until 2024.

He was released early in 2018, through the Alabama Department of Corrections good time served program.

As a result of his life sentence, he will not be eligible for that program.

Barnett said her focus was to secure the life sentence on the murder charge.

“Every time we think we have [the Alabama Department of Corrections] figured out, and what they allow and how they calculate and everything, we’re just knocked on our backsides quite frankly,” she said.

She estimates Fearn will be eligible for parole in 13 to 15 years.

Late start to trial

Fearn’s trial was scheduled for 9 a.m.. The Madison County Sheriff’s Office did not deliver him to Judge Smith’s courtroom until roughly 11:45 a.m..

The sheriff’s office originally brought the wrong inmate to the courtroom.

Smith attributed the delay to IT issues the office is currently facing with its computers and phones.

Office spokesman Inv. Brent Patterson said the office is looking to correct the issue as soon as possible.

Barnett said the court has been seeing delays.

“The jail is doing the best they can going back to the old fashion keeping of the jail. It has been an issue and we’ve been dealing with it. We understand it’s not their fault, they got him here when they could, and we got it taken care of and he’s heading back.”

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