The Pontotoc man charged with capital murder in the brutal strangulation death of a teenage girl in Batesville will make his initial court appearance Wednesday in Municipal Court here.
And it won’t be the first time Bobby Waldron, 41, has been in a courtroom as he served time on a manslaughter charge after pleading guilty in 1981 to killing a man with a tire tool in 1980.
That’s according to court records in Pontotoc County and reports in the Pontotoc Progress which reveal Waldron entered the plea after the initial murder charge was reduced to manslaughter.
A source close to the case said Waldron served four years of a 20-year sentence for the death of John W. Hollingsworth, 39. His skeletal remains were found about six weeks after the crime by squirrel hunters who were hunting in the Pinedale community.
At press time, Waldron remained in the Panola County Detention Center in lieu of $2 million bond. A city court clerk’s office spokesman said Judge pro-temp Jay Westfaul set the bond.
Waldron’s court appearance, where he will enter a plea, will occur sometime after the 8:30 a.m. start of court, the clerk said. If he enters a not guilty plea a date for a preliminary hearing will be set.
Although District Attorney John Champion and Batesville police refused to release the name of the victim she has been identified through other sources as Tina Marie Dover, 15, of 835 Friendship Road in Ecru.
She was a 10th grade student at Pontotoc High School.
Tupelo’s Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal quoted Pontotoc County Chief Deputy Mike McGowan as saying Batesville officers contacted his office Wednesday after Dover’s body was discovered. McGowan said the cause of death appeared to be strangulation.
Panola County Coroner Donna Stevens said she is not at liberty to confirm the death cause because she said Champion had requested she release no information.
Stevens did say that Batesville police officers attended the autopsy of Dover that was conducted at Mississippi Mortuary Services in Pearl.
City police reported getting a call from the Hampton Inn about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday after the body was found.
Champion said an employee of the motel found the girl.
He would not confirm reports the teen was tied to the bed and had been sexually assaulted.
"I can’t comment on that," he said, citing both his office "policy" and Mississippi’s pretrial publicity rules.
He did say the other crime alleged during the course of the slaying that makes it a capital case is "felony abuse and battery of a child."
He said no decision has been reached on whether the death penalty will be sought and said that decision won’t be made until he confers with Dover’s family on the issue. He added that typically such decisions are made not long before trial.
Champion was in Batesville Tuesday where he said he planned to meet with local officers and "get a status report" on the case.
"We still have a lot of investigating to do," the district attorney said.