Headlines – 6/10/2003

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Panolian Headlines: June 10, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 6/10/03  issue of The Panolian

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Capital Murder Charge Filed
In Brutal Slaying of Teen Girl

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.


Fish Fry Fun!
Cedric Hamilton of Batesville, left, shakes hands with Republican gubernatorial candidate Haley Barbour at Friday’s fish fry. At right is former Batesville resident J.C. Burns.

Possible Hospital Sale, Lease Moves Closer With Votes

Both the Panola County Board of Supervisors and the Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen have voted unanimously to proceed with a valuation analysis of the Tri-Lakes Medical Center.

According to Assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell, the Batesville Board of Aldermen voted to move forward with Phase II following a recessed meeting Friday, June 6.

"Ultimately everyone involved on the city’s end feels this is a step in the right direction to decide the future of the hospital," he said.

The action, according to Mayor Bobby Baker, is the next step "in moving on to eventually asking for proposals" from those who are interested in buying or leasing the city-and-county-owned hospital.

During the Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, they also voted to proceed to the next phase of this project.

"I think it is time for the county to do whatever is possible to find the best available healthcare providers for our residents," Supervisor president Robert Avant said.

"We need to move forward with this second phase as quickly as we can," he said.

According to Mississippi State Law as pertains to the sale or lease of a community hospital, the owner or owners make the decision to sell or lease the facility, "it shall first spread upon its minutes why such lease or sale is in the best interests of the person living in the service area of the hospital."

The owners are required by law to release any and all findings and recommendations made in the review required under proposals for the lease, which shall state clearly, the minimum required terms of all respondents and the evaluation process that will be used when the owner reviews the proposals.

If the decision is made to sell or lease Tri-Lakes Medical Center, the owners (The City of Batesville and Panola County) must first conduct a public hearing on the issue of the proposed sale or lease. Notice of the date, time, location and purpose of the public hearing shall be published once a week for at least three consecutive weeks in at least one newspaper published in the county or city of the hospital.


Como Seeks Help in Fighting Mosquitoes
A Como resident appeared before the Panola County Board of Supervisors with a problem that is bugging townspeople.

John Edwards presented the supervisors with a letter from Como Mayor Bobby Lewers requesting assistance with the mosquito spraying.

"I believe we need the help of the county in spraying so we can prevent a possible outbreak of West Nile Virus," Edwards said.

Edwards told the board there were already cases reported in birds in a neighboring county.
"At least three cases have been reported to the health department in Tate County," he said. "So something needs to be done before dead birds start popping up here."

According to the supervisors, the county does not have the equipment or personnel to manage the mosquito population in the county.

"Plain and simple, we don’t spray," Supervisor Dennis Lott said.