Melissa Ash, who confessed to the 1999 murder of Hilton (Bobo) Sewell in Oak Grove, was arrested this past week by Gulf County Sheriff’s Office investigators.
Sewell was arrested and charged with murder in 1999 but was declared incompetent to stand trial and charges were dropped.
A co-defendant, Esmond Joseph, 20-years-old at the time, spent seven years in the Gulf County Jail and also spent time at the Chattahoochee State Facility.
Sewell was found dead in his home on Iola Street in Oak Grove during the afternoon of Oct. 5. He had been stabbed to death.
According to news reports at the time, former Gulf County Sheriff Frank McKeithen and investigators gathered information and interviewed 15-20 suspects before developing Ash and Joseph as suspects.
The investigation revealed the Ash and Joseph went to Sewell’s home with weapons. Ash allegedly stabbed Sewell and she and Joseph left the residence.
They confessed their involvement to investigators.
According to current Gulf County Sheriff Joe Nugent, drugs were involved and there were allegations made by Ash that Sewell had raped her, charges that were never substantiated.
Ash has spent time at Chattahoochee and another state mental health facility since the murder, but Nugent indicated that, working with the family, investigators had developed sufficient evidence to re-charge Ash with murder.
“We think she is competent,” Nugent said.
The arrest was necessary to taking the next step in proving Ash is competent.
Nugent said her defense attorney would likely raise the issue again, forcing the court to direct Ash to undergo a competency exam.
If she is again found incompetent, that would be the end of the case, Nugent said. Charges could no longer be brought.
However, if Ash is found competent to understand the charges and assist in her defense, Nugent said the State Attorney would resume to press the case forward to trial.