Man who confessed to 2016 murder in Tuscaloosa County released from jail

Local News

COTTONDALE, Ala. (WIAT)-A Tuscaloosa County man who confessed to murder is out of jail.  In 2016 Donald Clark admitted to committing a home invasion that resulted in the death of 77-year-old Willis Sample. Tuesday a Tuscaloosa County judge dismissed the charges against Clark because of a technicality.

Paul Hoggle is outraged that Clark, the accused killer, is back on the streets as a free man.  Hoggle lives on 55th Court East in the Cottondale subdivision and was a neighbor to Sample for more than forty years.

“It makes me sick and I can’t believe they would do that and let him go. Well, I just don’t understand it, I don’t understand how someone can confess to doing something and that looks like that would be enough to send them away for life”.

77-year-old Willis Sample and his wife. Sample was killed in 2016 after a home invasion.

Police say in 2016 Donald Clark confessed to the home invasion in Cottondale.  Willis Sample died from a heart attack after he and his wife were tied up then robbed.  Despite being mentally competent to stand trial, prosecutors say he wasn’t able to knowingly waive his Miranda rights.  For that reason, the judge dismissed the murder charges against Donald Clark. 

 Longtime friend Paul Hoggle says even though it’s been three years he still can’t believe his friend is gone.

“Well it was awful I mean terrible.  To have someone you’ve known for so long and to have something like that happened to him was just terrible.  He was just one of the best neighbors and friends we had.  I’ve known him all his life and it’s just sad”.

Willis Sample served in the National Guard, he also worked as a mail carrier.  His family says he loved farming.

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