LEE COUNTY, Ala. — The Lee County Sheriff’s Office tells News 3 that 48-year-old Mark Harold Hagler, the man charged with felony murder; torture and willful abuse of 15-month-old Konner Flowers had been drinking prior to Flowers being found unresponsive at home on Saturday.
They said that alcohol was present in the house and law enforcement could smell it on Hagler’s breath.
Investigators said they are looking into how Hagler was babysitting the child and if he babysat any other children before this.
“Any situation where an adult takes on the responsibility of caring for a young child or any child, I think it’s important that you take steps to not impair your judgment and not to introduce alcohol or drugs into those situations because we see what the results can be,” Capt. Van Jackson of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said.
Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said these kinds of cases are difficult for all those involved, but said there is a satisfaction of knowing that someone who is most likely a monster could be put away and avoid them re-offending.
Hughes said that if anyone murders a child in the county, they will be met with the full brunt and resources of the district attorney’s office up to and including the death penalty if they can seek it. He said the decision to seek the death penalty is up to him and his office, but added that it is way too early to make that decision.
“Once the investigation is complete and we have all the medical evidence in and really once we get it ready for grand jury because the grand jury is ultimately decide how this case is charged,” Hughes said. “Once they charge the case, then we can make a determination. If they charge it as a capital murder, then we’ll make the assessment if we want to seek the death penalty in this case.”
Tina Evans, the program coordinator at the Child Advocacy Center said that background checks serve as a safeguard for parents when choosing a childcare provider, but added if a friend or relative is watching the child, it is tougher to know what that person is capable of. She urged parents to be extra vigilant of who they leave their children with, and said that if they suspect something is going on with a child, report it to law enforcement or the Department of Human Resources.
“You’d rather err on the side of safety and make sure,” Evans said. “If they go out and say that everything is OK and everything is fine, you’ve done what you’ve needed to do to make sure that child was being cared for and is safe. It’s when people say, ‘Oh my gosh, I noticed something, I saw something, but I really didn’t know what to do.’ and then we end up with a situation like we had over the weekend.”
Hagler remains at the Lee County Detention Facility on a $250,000 bond.