The man accused of killing a Pleasant Hill area gold buyer in his home in January 2018 had a setback in his bid for a trial when his attorney had to bow out of the case, citing a conflict of interest.

Billy Joe Wannyn, represented by the Public Defender’s Office, has been in jail since his arrest on charges of premeditated first-degree murder, felony murder and aggravated robbery. 

The victim was Albin Von (Salvatore) Buechel, 71, who lived on Arthur Seagraves Dr., west of Pleasant Hill. Buechell operated businesses out of his home, including a gold-buying business. He referred to himself on social media as Goldfinger.

Deputies responding to a welfare check at the request of family members found Buechel dead in his home. Wannyn was later accused of killing Buechel with a knife during a robbery.

Wannyn, 48, Depot St., Sparta, had a trial date set but that date was put in jeopardy when Assistant Public Defender Laura Dykes earlier this month filed a motion to withdraw from the case, citing a conflict of interest caused by a potential prosecuting witness the state might call.

Cumberland County Criminal Court Judge Wesley Bray granted the motion of the defender’s office to withdraw from the case, and appointed Jeff Vires to represent Wannyn.

The cases were continued to Jan. 3 for a status report. He remains in jail under a $1.5 million bond.

In other cases on the docket, the following took place:

Trial set

•Angela Elizabeth Simpson Hughes, fifth offense driving under the influence, driving under the influence, per se and violation of the motor vehicle ignition interlock law, set for trial Feb. 25.

•Donnie Whittenburg, aggravated assault, trial set for Feb. 26.

•Robert Wayne Slagle, domestic assault and resisting a stop, arrest or search, continued to Jan. 22 for tracking and trial set for March 4. Reckless endangerment, evading arrest and reckless driving, continued for tracking.

Deadline docket

•William Jefferson Boggs, aggravated robbery, continued to Jan. 3.

•Marcus Allan Braddam, evading arrest, reckless driving, five counts of driving on a suspended license and five counts of second offense or subsequent driving on a suspended license, motion for bond revocation based on new charges in Cumberland and Putnam counties set for Jan. 3.

•Mark George Chambers, sexual exploitation of a minor — 100 images, continued to Jan. 27.

•Tyler Julius Hoskins, auto burglary, burglary, vandalism of $10,000 to $60,000, theft of $10,000 to $60,000, theft of property of $2,500 to $10,000 and two counts of theft of property of up to $1,000, recovery court application filed and continued to the Jan. 14 discussion docket and Jan. 22 deadline docket.

•Maxwell Alexander Herget, filing a false report, began plea process but had plea set aside pending action on judicial diversion application and had case continued to Jan. 3.

•Thomas Lloyd Oliver, home improvement fraud of $2,500 to $10,000, continued to Jan. 22.

•Joe Levi Reagan, felony possession of methamphetamine, theft of property of $1,000 to $2,500 and simple possession of marijuana, continued to Jan. 17.

•Thomas Leon Reagan, felony possession of methamphetamine and theft of property of $1,000 to $2,500, continued to March 23.

•Brittney Nicole Russell, felony possession of methamphetamine, introducing contraband into a penal institution, simple possession of meth and simple possession of marijuana, attorney Brandon Griffin allowed to withdraw from the case citing no contact with the defendant, forfeiture and capias issued for failure to appear, ten days in jail and ordered held for bond hearing.

•Pedro Lucas Santizo, rape of a child, continued to Feb. 24.

•Edward Junior Sherrill, two counts of felony possession of a Schedule II drug, simple possession of methamphetamine, simple possession and possession of drug paraphernalia, continued to Jan. 3.

•James Albert Sherrill Sr., theft of merchandise of up to $1,000 and vandalism of $1,000 to $2,500, Public Defender’s Office to represent Sherrill and continued.

•Justin Dylan Weaver, felony possession of a Schedule II drug, continued to Jan. 17.


•Curtis Ross Lowery, vehicular assault, continued to Jan. 19 at which time Lowery is to return to court with an attorney.


•Virgil Christopher Belin, aggravated assault, domestic assault and simple assault, motion to suppress hearing continued to Jan. 17.

•William Jefferson Boggs, aggravated robbery, continued to Jan. 3.

•Travis Lloyd Houston, probation violations, two counts of driving under the influence, two counts of fourth offense driving under the influence, violation of the habitual motor vehicle offender law, hearing continued to Jan. 3.

•Brian Andrew Melton, multiple probation violations, pleaded guilty to one probation violation and is to serve three years in prison.

•Joshua Matthew Norton, aggravated assault and domestic assault, motion to reduce bond hearing results in $10,000 bond with cases continued to Jan. 3.

•Andrew Paul Pendergrass, theft of property of $2,500 to $10,000 and vandalism of more than $1,000, motion hearing continued to Jan. 22.

•Matthew Glen Taylor, probation violation, continued to Jan. 17.

Continued boundover

The following defendants have cases are pending action of the grand jury. Thomas Mack Arnold, dismissed. Sandy Leander McClellon, recovery court application pending; continued to Jan. 17 for status report. Ryan Michael Whitlow, continued to Jan. 17.