Aug 3, 2014

Arrest in severed hand murder

Victim's in-laws voice support for accused killer

A mild-mannered nurse at Baptist Memorial Hospital was arrested yesterday evening for the July 4 killing of mechanic Andrew Fine, whose body was found buried in a field on Reagle Farm Road more than a week later.

Dudley Brinkman, 39, was arrested for murder at his home in Oxford. Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's investigators say Brinkman shot Fine in a pre-dawn attack at an abandoned farmhouse near the crime scene.

Brinkman and Cynthia Fine dated in high school but had not been in close contact recently, investigators say.
 
Cynthia Fine reported her husband missing after the holiday weekend ended and he failed to return home for work Monday morning, said Elizabeth Jones, information officer for the department.

A night of violence

Jones declined to specify the evidence against Brinkman but did say investigators are confident they know what happened the night Andrew Fine was murdered.

At a brief press conference announcing the arrest, assistant district attorney Calvin Dollarhide said Brinkman had allegedly been stalking Andrew and Cynthia Fine for an extended period including on the night of the murder.

That night, Dollarhide said, Brinkman allegedly followed the Fines to their Yocona house where he later shot Andrew Fine to death.

A source close to the investigation said Brinkman claims he was acting in defense of Cynthia Fine when he shot Andrew Fine, but Jones would not comment on whether detectives have found any evidence supporting that claim.

History of spousal abuse?

Although Andrew Fine was never cited for domestic abuse, his violent treatment of Cynthia Fine was well known, according to Robyn Campbell Dykman, Cynthia's sister.

Dykman has pledged to contribute to Brinkman's legal defense, saying the circumstances of the crime warrant a reduced charge.

"It's terrible Andy was murdered — no one deserves that — but I can't say I want him back," she said.

Cynthia Fine declined to be interviewed, but released a one-sentence statement, saying, "I will always love my husband and believe he deserves the Lord's mercy and a place at His side in heaven."

An unlikely killer

Dudley Brinkman, now behind bars
Brinkman has no prior criminal record, and colleagues at the hospital reacted in shock to the news of his arrest, describing him as competent, gentle, and compassionate.

"He never talked much, but people would calm right down with him," said emergency room nursing supervisor Annette Cleary, who worked with Brinkman. "Being in the cardiac unit can be painful and stressful for the patients and their families, but he had a way of soothing them."

A call to the residence where Brinkman lives with his mother was answered by a man who identified himself as Reverend Gideon Horner of Trinity Church. Rev. Horner said Mrs. Brinkman was too distraught to speak to anyone and asked for privacy and prayers in this difficult time.

The district attorney's office has not determined whether to seek the death penalty in the case and refused to speculate on the possibility of a plea bargain or the credibility of the alleged mitigating circumstances.

A preliminary hearing is set for August 11, 2014.
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