Victims: Kevin Eugene Duncan, 14, and Mollan Allen Eakes, 15
Murderers: Nathan Gast, 15, Carvin Stargell, 17, and Christopher Thrasher, 16
Crime date: February 8, 1992
Weapon: Baseball bat
Murder method: Beating
Sentence: Stargell and Thrasher–life without parole (LWOP); Gast–life with parole
Incarceration status: Gast-released; Stargell & Thrasher-incarcerated at the Limestone Correctional Center
The killers, who were members of a street gang, beat Kevin and Allen to death. Stargell later beat and attempted to rape a witness to the crime, leaving her to die in a deserted rural area. Stargell and Thrasher were convicted and sentenced to LWOP, while Gast pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life with parole. Gast was later released without the victims’ families’ knowledge.
The assailants, all members of the Insane Gangster Disciples street gang, beat Kevin and Allen to death with a baseball bat and left them in a creek along Alabama 150. Stargell later attempted to rape the only surviving witness, a 14-year-old girl, and severely beat her. He left her to die in a vacant lot in a deserted rural area. She was found after Gast told police where to look for her. The victim was able to testify at trial.
Stargell and Thrasher were convicted and sentenced to life without parole (LWOP). Gast pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole. He was later re-sentenced and released without the victims’ families’ knowledge.
After Miller v. Alabama, Thrasher and Stargell were re-sentenced to LWOP. The judge wrote about Thrasher that “The crimes committed by this Defendant are not representative of an immature and impetuous youth, but rather a mature, cold, and calculated criminal eager to cover his tracks at all costs. This Defendant expressed no remorse for his actions at the time of the incident, at his trial, or in the intervening years.” Thrasher’s sentence was affirmed in 2019 by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.
HOOVER, AL (WBRC) – Relatives of a murder victim from Oneonta continue their fight this week. They are fighting to keep one of their loved one’s killers behind bars.
It has been nearly 19 years since 15-year-old Allen Eakes and 14-year old Kevin Duncan were assaulted with a baseball bat and left to drown near the Shades Creek Bridge off Highway 150 in Hoover.
Three men were convicted in the killings and one of them, Nathan Gast, has a parole hearing this week. Allen Eakes’s brother and sister will be at the hearing to fight the parole petition.
With the holidays approaching, the possibility of gast going free is even more troubling. “Because we miss him, and we know he would be here, and his children would be here, that’s hard,” said Eddie Eakes, the victim’s brother. “All we have to do is go visit his tombstone and grave. That’s all we have to remember him by.”
The offenders are serving life sentences.
By The Blount Countian Staff | on July 09, 2014
by Ron Gholson
Nathan Gast, 36, formerly of Hueytown, was released from prison last week, following a Bessemer judge’s ruling vacating his life sentence, and re-sentencing him to time served – about 20 years. Gast was convicted in the 1992 beating deaths of two Blount County boys, Mollan Allen Eakes, 15, and Kevin Eugene Duncan, 14.
The killings were committed by a trio of youths: Gast, Carvin Stargell, and Christopher Thrasher, all teens at the time, and all said to be members of a street gang called Insane Gangster Disciples. Eakes and Duncan were killed with a baseball bat and a girl, Ginger Minor, was beaten and seriously injured, but later recovered to testify against the three. Stargell and Thrasher were convicted and sentenced to life without parole. Gast was given a life sentence.
That fact played a part in his release, according to a statement by Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey.
“To be clear, Gast did not receive a sentence of life without the possibility of parole when he was sentenced in 1994. Instead, Gast received a sentence of life with the possibility of parole. Gast has been up for parole more than once and has been denied by the Board of Pardons and Parole each time. In essence a judge, who did not hear the facts of the trial, granted a petition to allow Gast to be re-sentenced. It saddens me that the families of the victims have to relive this nightmare and a killer now walks on our streets.”
According to information supplied by Casey from the Alabama Crime Victim’s Rights, item (3) of section 15-23-75 states:“The status of any post-conviction court review or appellate proceeding or any decisions arising from those proceedings shall be furnished to the victim by the office of the Attorney General or the office of the district attorney, whichever is appropriate, immediately after the status is known.”
Betty Klinger, of Straight Mountain, was the mother of Kevin Duncan. She said that neither she nor the Eakes family was notified of the last week’s hearing before Bessemer Circuit Court Judge David Carpenter.
“Why, sure. I’d have been there if I’d known,” she said.“They didn’t let us know anything. It’s like it was done undercover. We should’ve been there. I would’ve been there. It was like they sneaked and did it. They didn’t want us there. He (Gast) is as guilty as the other ones. It was him that held Kevin and Allen while the other one – Stargell – hit’em with the bat.
“The thing that hurts me worst was that Kevin was always in church. He was a good boy. He ended up with that gang only through an accident.”
She explained that he had gone to the skating rink that night, and didn’t have a ride home. He ended up riding with a friend he hadn’t seen in quite a while. He called home to tell his mother that Allen Eakes was giving him a ride home. Instead, the two Oneonta boys were taken to Bessemer with the teens who were in the gang.
“I don’t know how they worked it out to release him. I wish I understood.
Updated Mar 06, 2019; Posted Jul 08, 2014By Kent Faulk | firstname.lastname@example.org
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – The families of two Oneonta boys beaten and left to die in a Birmingham creek in 1992 are angry that one of the killers, Nathan Gast, was released from prison last week without their knowledge.
“No one contacted us,” said Eddie Eakes. “They snuck behind our back … They just didn’t give us a chance to do anything.”
“I’m furious. My friends are furious,” said Danny Duncan.
Eakes and Duncan are the older brothers of Mollan Allen Eakes, 15, and Kevin Eugene Duncan, 14 who were beaten with a baseball bat and left face down in Shades Creek along Alabama 150 near Bessemer on Feb. 8, 1992. A 14-year-old girl, whose name was not published, survived the attack and testified.
Gast, who was 15 at the time, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. Two other teens, Christopher Thrasher and Carvin Stargell, were convicted in connection with the murders and received life without the possibility of parole. All three teens charged were alleged members of the Gangster Disciples street gang and, according to trial testimony, Thrasher was the one who ordered Gast and Stargell to kill the boys.
Gast, however, was released from custody Thursday afternoon after Bessemer Cutoff Jefferson County Circuit Judge David Carpenter re-sentenced Gast to 20 years, time served, and ordered his release. The judge made the ruling based on a motion by Gast’s attorney, Tommy Spina, that was unopposed by Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Arthur Green.
Efforts to reach Green were unsuccessful prior to publication of this story.
Gast, now 37, had previously sought three times to be released by the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles. Each time, the Duncan and Eakes families were there to oppose it. At the last one in 2010, however, both Spina and a detective in the case came to make a plea to the board, Duncan said.
Duncan and Eakes were also angry at prosecutors for not opposing Gast’s release.
“The prosecutors just sat there and went along with it. And that’s what I don’t understand,” Eakes said.
Eakes said they had been told that Gast would not be released until the next hearing. “I know they didn’t do us right,” he said.
“That’s no way for the state of Alabama to do our family after what we went through,” Eakes said. “What good is a parole board if you’re going to have a judge come in and go against it.”
Eakes, choking back tears, said that his brother’s death tore his family apart. “It’s been like it happened yesterday.”
“There is no getting over it,” he said. “I’ll get over it when my heart takes its last beat.”
Duncan said there have been people executed for less than what those teens did to the two boys. “This boy has committed murder and tried to kill another. … Justice has not been served here,” he said.
“Everybody up here is mad,” Duncan said of the Blount County community.
Duncan said his family contacted Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey about what to do.
Casey stated in an email that she told them to contact the Alabama Attorney General’s office if they were not happy with the way the cases are being handled. “I told them I would assist them in any way I could with contacting the AG. They haven’t contacted me since that initial contact,” Casey stated in the email.
Spina had argued in his motion that it was never the intent under Gast’s plea for him to serve more than 10 years of the life sentence and that the state would not oppose it. At the time, 10 years would have been the first time he could have received parole. However, later changes in the parole system bumped the minimum time to serve before eligibility to 15 years. With the pardons and parole board repeatedly denying Gast parole, Gast essentially had a “defacto” life without the possibility of parole sentence.
Spina said Gast had cooperated with authorities from the night of the incident and was instrumental in helping find the girl who survived. He said Gast didn’t hit Duncan and Eakes with the bat, but he did move one of the boys and placed him face down in the creek. It turned out the boy died from drowning.
Updated Mar 06, 2019; Posted Oct 13, 2017By Ivana Hrynkiw | email@example.com
Two men who were sentenced in 1993 to spend their lives in prison for the death of two young Oneonta teens were re-sentenced today to the same fate.
On Friday, Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff Circuit Judge David Carpenter re-sentenced Christopher Thrasher and Carvin Stargell to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Thrasher, 42, and Stargell, 43, were originally given the same sentence for the 1992 killings of 15-year-old Mollan Allen Eakes and 14-year-old Kevin Eugene Duncan. Both Thrasher and Stargell were also teenagers at the time.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an Alabama case in 2012 that a law requiring sentences of life without parole for juveniles convicted of capital murder was unconstitutional. In 2016, the court said that rule is to be applied retroactively to people convicted prior to 2012. The decision opened up the possibility of parole for about 80 prisoners in Alabama, including Thrasher and Stargell.
Judges can still re-sentence the offenders to life without parole, but must have other sentencing options.
On Feb. 8, 1992, Allen and Kevin were found dead in Shades Creek under a Highway 150 bridge. They had been beaten in the head with a baseball bat and left to drown.
The judge cited in his order Friday a psychologist who examined Thrasher said while Thrasher was 16 at the time of the crimes, he had the emotional capacity of a 13-year-old. “It is indisputable that 13-year-olds know right from wrong,” Carpenter wrote.
He wrote that evidence at trial showed Thrasher and his co-defendants contemplated the murders prior to the killing, and Thrasher “planned and attempted to kill the only witness.”
“Thrasher cannot argue that, due to his lack of maturity, he made an impetuous decision and fired a single shot from a gun causing a regrettable death. No, in this case, [Thrasher] instructed other gang members to commit the murders, and when they failed to do so after their first attempt he again instructed the other gang members to kill Allen Eakes and Kevin Duncan,” the order showed. Thrasher “was much more than a mere aider and abettor,” Carpenter wrote, and could have prevented the crimes.
Stargell, who was 17 at the time of the murders, had an above-average IQ and was placed in a school program for gifted students, Carpenter wrote. Stargell “expressed his intent” to kill Allen and Kevin by trying to get a gun from a friend, and only taking a bat when he was not able to obtain a gun.
Carpenter wrote that after the “brutal” killing of the boys– describing how Stargell attacked one of the victims who tried to flee– Stargell had a “considerable amount of time” to think about his next move. Instead, raped and beat the surviving, 14-year-old female victim and left her to die, the order stated.
The crimes Stargell committed were “gruesome,” and were actions of a “cold and calculated criminal.”
Carpenter wrote that neither man has ever showed any remorse for their crimes.
Thrasher’s re-sentencing hearing started October 2. In his hearing, prosecutors stated that Thrasher was the leader of the Gangster Disciples street gang, and ordered fellow gang members Stargell and Gast to kill Allen and Kevin. They said he should not be given the opportunity to be released from prison.
Thrasher’s attorneys argued that Stargell and Gast were the ones who actually committed the murders and Thrasher was not present when the boys were killed. His attorneys said Thrasher was a “broken teen,” but has completed several programs while in prison and is currently taking college-level courses, and should be eligible for parole.
Thrasher’s sister Kimberly Thrasher Vance testified at his hearing. She said the Thrasher family moved often when she and her brother were young, and changed schools several times. Vance said Thrasher was a talented athlete, who played baseball and enjoyed skateboarding. Vance said she has never seen her younger brother act violently.
Allen and Thrasher were best friends, Vance said, and Allen was often at the Thrasher household. “They were together all the time… they were glued to the hip.” Vance also said Gast was a frequent guest at their home. “He was like a little brother to me. Allen was too. He was a sweet boy.” Vance said Thrasher would “absolutely not” hurt Allen.
The victims’ family members in the courtroom shook their heads in disagreement while Vance talked about Allen and Thrasher’s friendship.
Vance said on the Friday night Allen and Kevin were killed, Thrasher came to her house and asked for money. Thrasher told his sister he and his friends were going to a party, but she did not know who else was in the car.
“He deserves to be home,” she said.
Stargell’s hearing began Tuesday afternoon. According to a re-sentencing memorandum filed by Stargell’s attorneys Billy Jewell and Edward Reynolds, Thrasher ordered the young female victim to have sex with Stargell on the night of the killings, but she refused. The document states Thrasher then gave Stargell a baseball bat, and Stargell beat the girl.
Stargell denied being a member of the Gangster Disciples gang, but acknowledged Thrasher was a member.
The memorandum states Stargell was raised by his mother after his abusive father left the family. Stargell attended church where his grandfather was a minister and sang in the church choir.
A psychologist stated Stargell suffered from bacterial meningitis as a child, which could have created “behavioral difficulties” as Stargell got older, documents show.
The memorandum states Stargell has spent his prison time “trying to better himself and other inmates,” and has not received any infractions in prison for violent offenses.
Gast was released from prison in 2014, when a judge vacated his life sentence and re-sentenced Gast to the time – about 20 years – he had already served. Prosecutors did not oppose the request by Gast’s attorney for his release, according to court documents. Gast pleaded guilty in 1994 to one count of murder for the boys’ deaths and one count of attempted murder in the girl’s beating.
“Nathan was instrumental in saving [the girl’s] life as he and I rode with the police till 2 am to point out where she had been left,” Gast’s attorney Tommy Spina said.
She survived the attack and testified at Stargell and Thrasher’s trials.
Facts and Procedural History
In October 1993, Thrasher was convicted of murder made capital pursuant to § 13A-5-40(a)(10), Ala. Code 1975, for the intentional killing of Allen Eakes and Kevin Duncan when Thrasher was 16 years old. Thrasher summarizes the facts giving rise to his conviction as follows:
“[O]n February 8, 1992, Carvin Stargell and Nathan Gast, beat Eakes and Duncan before leaving them to drown in a creek in … Jefferson County. Mr. Thrasher was allegedly the orchestrator of the murders and purportedly instructed Stargell and Gast to murder Eakes and Duncan.
“The sole witness to the events was Ginger Minor. Minor was nearly beaten to death by Stargell with a baseball bat and left to die in a vacant lot that same evening. Minor recovered and testified against Mr. Thrasher at trial. Minor testified that Mr. Thrasher was the leader of the gang that included Stargell and Gast. Mr. Thrasher, Minor, Stargell, Gast, Eakes, and Duncan were together on February 8, 1992. That night after buying alcohol, the group went to Crown Point Apartments to swim in a hot tub. Mr. Thrasher, Minor, Stargell, and Gast got in the hot tub while Duncan and Eakes remained in the car. Minor testified that Mr. Thrasher made her perform oral sex on Gast and Stargell so that she could become a female member of the group called a ‘disciple queen.’
“Afterwards, Stargell and Gast left Mr. Thrasher and Minor alone in the hot tub. At some point, Duncan came up to the fence around the pool area covered with drool and said ‘Chris, are you crazy? They tried to choke us and said we had to die.’ Minor testified that Mr. Thrasher went up to the
fence to talk to Duncan and was laughing and grinning. Duncan walked back to the car and left with Gast, Stargell, and Eakes. Mr. Thrasher told Minor that Stargell and Gast were taking Eakes and Duncan home. While they were gone, Mr. Thrasher got sick and vomited over the side of the hot tub.
“Stargell and Gast were gone for two hours. When they returned, Eakes and Duncan were not with them. Stargell told Gast to help Mr. Thrasher get dressed while Stargell took Minor’s clothes and dragged her to the car. As he dragged her to the car, Stargell repeatedly told Minor, ‘girl you gotta die.’ Stargell put Minor in the backseat of the car with Gast while Stargell drove; Mr. Thrasher sat in the front passenger seat.
“As they drove around, Gast told Minor that he and Stargell had put the other boys in the creek while Stargell bragged about how they had beat them and that they were dead. They drove to Red Mountain where Stargell said they were going to throw Minor off the mountain, but they did not. Eventually, they ended up in a wooded area in Bessemer, where Stargell tried to rape Minor in the car.
“After the attempted rape, Stargell told Minor to get out of the car for the last part of the initiation. Mr. Thrasher had a baseball bat. Stargell and Mr. Thrasher kept saying that Minor had to die and Stargell was telling Mr. Thrasher to hit her with the bat. At some point, Mr. Thrasher told Minor to say the disciple’s prayer for the gang. Mr. Thrasher picked up a rock but didn’t hit her with it.
“Minor testified that Stargell kept telling Mr. Thrasher to hit Minor, but Mr. Thrasher said he couldn’t bring himself to hit her. At that point, Stargell bashed Minor in the head with the bat. The last thing Minor remembered was a ‘ping’ sound when Stargell struck her head with the bat.”
Thrasher’s brief, at 1-4 (citations to trial transcript and footnote omitted).
At the time of Thrasher’s conviction, § 13A-6-2(c), Ala. Code 1975, authorized only two possible sentences for a capital-murder conviction — death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. After Thrasher waived his right to the participation of the jury in the sentencing hearing, see § 13A-5-44(c), Ala. Code 1975, the trial court sentenced Thrasher to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. This Court affirmed Thrasher’s conviction and sentence on direct appeal. See Thrasher v. State, 668 So. 2d 949 (Ala. Crim. App. 1995) (table), cert denied Ex parte Thrasher, 667 So. 2d 750 (Ala. 1995) (table).
On June 4, 2013, Thrasher filed a Rule 32, Ala. R. Crim. P., petition for postconviction relief in which he argued that his sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional under Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), which prohibits a sentencing scheme that “mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.” Id. at 479, 2469. Although the State initially moved to dismiss Thrasher’s petition, the State and Thrasher subsequently filed a joint motion to stay the Rule 32 proceedings pending the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U.S. ___, 136 S. Ct. 718 (2016), in which the Court granted certiorari to address whether Miller applies retroactively to cases on collateral review. On January 25, 2016, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Montgomery, holding that Miller “announced a substantive rule that is retroactive in cases on collateral review.” Montgomery, 577 U.S. at ___, 136 S. Ct. at 732. Thereafter, the State and Thrasher filed a joint motion in which the State conceded that, in light of Montgomery, Thrasher was entitled to a sentencing hearing in accord with Miller. Thus, on March 9, 2016, the trial court entered an order granting Thrasher’s Rule 32 petition and scheduling a resentencing hearing.
On September 27, 2017, less than one week before the resentencing hearing, Thrasher filed a motion to continue the hearing. In support of that motion, Thrasher argued that the State, allegedly in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), had suppressed evidence indicating that Eakes’s family and Duncan’s family had made cash payments to Minor prior to her testimony at trial. Specifically, Thrasher argued that, in preparation for the resentencing hearing, the State had provided him with discovery that included a memorandum drafted by prosecutor Ted Mills in February 1994 (“the memorandum”). (C. 212.) According to Thrasher, the memorandum noted that Eakes’s family and Duncan’s family had made the payments to Minor prior to her testimony at trial and that the State “became aware of the payments in February 1994, approximately three (3) to four (4) months after the trial of the defendant.” The memorandum itself, which Thrasher included with his motion to continue, specifically indicates that, “[o]n February 2, 1994, [Mills] received a phone call from Annie Minor, Ginger Minor’s stepmother,” who informed Mills “that she had heard that [Minor] had received some money from the Eakes and Duncan family [sic] sometime after the Carvin Stargell trial.” (C. 217.) According to the memorandum, Mills arranged to meet with Minor at the same time that Andy Bellanca, a captain with the Bessemer Police Department, was to meet with Eakes’s family and Duncan’s family at a different location to “inquire as to whether this information was in fact true and, if so, what was the intent of giving this money.” (C. 218.) Mills reported that Minor told him that
“the money she received was attached to a birthday card and was nothing more than a gift for her sixteenth birthday. She said that she got a hundred dollar bill in a birthday card from the Eakes’ family and another card from the Duncans with a twenty dollar bill inside. [Minor] went on to say that she did not receive any other money from either family except that she did get a Christmas card from the Duncans in December and enclosed inside the card was a twenty dollar bill.”
(C. 218.) After meeting with Minor, Mills discussed his findings with Bellanca, who reported that “what [Eakes’s family and Duncan’s family] told him was almost i