This story was updated Feb. 27, 2019, at 7:04 p.m. with more information.
LAFAYETTE, Ga. — A man charged with murder in Rising Fawn received a $150,000 bond in Walker County Superior Court on Wednesday morning.
Judge Don Thompson granted the bond to 70-year-old Samuel Alfred Street after his attorneys argued he is not a flight risk and will not intimidate witnesses. Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin unsuccessfully pushed back, pointing out a key witness in the case — Street's son — is still missing, more than two months after the killing.
"What we have here is a 70-year-old man," said his defense attorney, Sutton Connelly. " ... Sam Street has spent 69 days in jail, waiting for this hearing."
"We have the very obvious disappearance of his son," Franklin countered. "And no practical effort of his family to find [him]."
The district attorney added that Ryan Street has not opened his Rising Fawn tire shop since the night of the shooting.
Four friends of Sam Street's — including Lewis Eugene Payne, David Jesse Ryan and Nancy Byers Newguard — all testified that he is not a flight risk. When Franklin asked them if they knew where Ryan Street was, they said they had not seen him.
The family of the victim, Justin Alfrey, sat in the front rows of the courthouse Wednesday, wearing white T-shirts that carried his photo and the words "Justice for Justin." They were frustrated with Thompson's decision.
"Dope dealers get a harsher bond than that," said his father, James Alfrey.
"[Sam Street's] son has been on the run," said Justin Alfrey's stepmother, Debra Alfrey. "What's to keep him from heading out?"
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation charged Street with murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm in December. He is accused of shooting Alfrey, 32, of Valley Head, Alabama, on Dec. 15.
According to a search warrant affidavit, Alfrey and two others planned to meet Street's son, Ryan, on the night of Dec. 15 to buy marijuana. They rode together to Street's property at 106 Highway 11 South in Rising Fawn, where Ryan Street lived in a doublewide mobile home.
Alfrey's companions, Justin Keith and Kristy Hatfield, told investigators they got out of the car and knocked on the front door. Alfrey waited in the car. They said they saw a vehicle pull up, and someone fired a shot inside the car, killing Alfrey.
During a preliminary hearing Jan. 17, Dade County Deputy Nathan Sledge testified that Keith and Hatfield told him they saw Sam Street pull the trigger. (The GBI is also testing strands of gray hair from the car, according to search warrant documentation.) But after Sledge's testimony, according to a transcript, Hatfield testified for the defense. She said she did not see Sam Street on the night of the killing.
The timeline is another obstacle for prosecution in the case. Alfrey's fiance, Autumn Cook, told the Times Free Press in December that he left home around 9 p.m. on Dec. 15. Hatfield's testimony last month seemed to line up with that sequence. She said the shooting happened between 9 and 9:30 p.m.
But according to the GBI, nobody called 911 until after midnight. Hatfield said she and Keith waited in the nearby woods for hours after the shooting because they were scared.
In addition to the $150,000 bond, Thompson ordered Sam Street to remain on house arrest for at least 90 days. He also cannot contact witnesses or the victim's family, even through a third party.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett