A former South Panola football coach, who faces charges of misconduct with underage students, is scheduled this month to face a jury of his peers.
Eldridge D. "Bubba" Bonds, 29, of 21 CR 209, Oxford, will go to trial on Monday, Jan. 13 on charges of sexual battery and forcible rape, according to a spokesman in the Panola County Circuit Clerk’s office. The trial on the two charges will take place before Circuit Judge Ann H. Lamar at the Panola County Courthouse.
Panola County Circuit Clerk Joe Reid said 275 potential jurors have been subpoenaed to report to the courtroom at 8:15 a.m. that morning.
If convicted, Bonds sentence on the sexual battery charge is at the judge’s discretion, and, according to state statute, could carry a maximum sentence of 30 years.
The jury could give life in prison for the forcible rape charge. If the jury can not agree on a sentence, state law says it will also be decided by the judge. The judge cannot hand down a life sentence.
The indictments issued involve a female student under the age of 18.
Bonds’ attorney, Kent Smith of Holly Springs, has a motion pending that would sever the charges so they can be tried individually, Another defense motion asks that the trial be moved out of Panola County, indicating the pre-trial publicity has already prejudiced any potential jurors.
Circuit Clerk Reid said he does not know when the judge will rule on the two motions.
Attorney Smith said, "During the investigations I have conducted, I have not found anyone who does not have a preconceived opinion about the charges against my client. Other than that I have no further comment on the matter."