Headlines – 6/17/2003

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Panolian Headlines: June 17, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 6/17/03  issue of The Panolian

Lawyer Plans Insanity Defense
Courtland Capital Murder

Edward Dickson Jr. has admitted he shot 84-year-old Alvin Herring to death but claims he was "hearing voices" at the time.

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That’s according to Dickson’s attorney, Panola County Public Defender David Walker, who told The Panolian he’ll "probably assert an insanity defense" in the capital murder case.

Dickson, 20, of Sardis, was arrested on May 6 after the May 3 shooting death of Herring at his Courtland home. Herring’s wife, Verlena, 75, was also shot and critically wounded. She is recovering from her injuries.

Walker said he’s received authority from his client to get Dickson’s "medical, mental health and school records.

"He has a history of mental health problems," Walker said of his client.

Dickson also faces charges of armed robbery and burglary in connection with the incident that Sheriff David Bryan said happened during "a home invasion."

The couple’s 1985 blue Chevrolet was stolen during the crime and was recovered soon thereafter.

Also, recovered, Bryan said, was "the murder weapon."

Herring, the sheriff said, was shot once in the head and Mrs. Herring was shot in the arm. One of her arteries was severed and the bullet lodged in her chest.

Authorities were alerted when Mrs. Herring was able to telephone her sister.

Dickson was arrested without incident at a residence on Cotton Plant Road where he had been staying, the sheriff said previously.

Motive has not been revealed by authorities in the crime in which Bryan said there "was no forced entry."

County Should Do More For Youth, Woman Says

"The leaders of the City of Batesville and Panola County seem to ignore the youth of the area," Mary Murphy told the board of supervisors.

"There are several problems with the youth of today," she said recently. "One of them is the fact that there are a lot of children raising children and a lot of single parent households."
Murphy told the board it is important for the county to do something to give the youth something to do.

"It is almost impossible for young kids out of school for the summer to find a job, and there is nothing for them to do to keep them out of trouble," she said. "We have got to do something this summer to keep our young people from doing something to harm other people in the community."

Murphy said the youngsters out on the streets for the summer "will be up to no good" if something doesn’t happen to keep them occupied.

One of Murphy’s suggestions is coming up with clubs and other programs that will appeal to all of the youth in Panola County.

"Something has got to be done or things will never get better," she said. "Sooner or later you will have a dead city and county."

Supervisor Robert Avant told Murphy the county has applied for many grants to benefit the youth of Panola County, but such programs are not high on the state’s priority list.

"The state is more concerned with making sure people have clean drinking water," he said. "But I agree something needs to be done."

Avant told Murphy to try the Boys and Girls Club for the youth in the county, a recommendation she scoffed at.

"The Boys and Girls Club of this area is not integrated," Murphy, who is black, said. "I mean it is located on Patton Lane and no parent wants their children going down into that area of town.

"Why would the organizers of the club put it in a drug-infested area rather than a more accessible part of town," she asked.


Grant to Aid Dump Clean-Ups
District Four supervisor Jerry Perkins takes a first-hand look at an illegal dumping site located on Holmes Road. Panola County received a $15,200 grant to assist in cleaning up this site and others like it in the county.

Panola County will have assistance from the state in cleaning up illegal dumping sites in the form of a $15,200 grant recently awarded by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove through the Local Government Solid Waste Assistance Fund.

The county proposes to use this money to clean up illegal dumps and for employment assistance for a solid waste enforcement officer.

"The investments we make in our environment are a major part of our economic growth as a state," Musgrove said in a press release. "These funds will enable communities in Panola County, as well as others across the state, to have healthier and cleaner communities."

Inmate Dies in Custody
Investigators today continue to probe circumstances surrounding the death of a 35-year-old Sardis woman who died while in custody at the Panola County Detention Center.

Dawn Y. Fowler of 25364 Highway 51 North in Sardis was booked into the jail at 12:45 a.m. Sunday, according to a jail spokesman. She was brought in by county authorities and charged with disturbing the peace.

The case is being investigated by Agent John Marsh of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations.

Warren Strain, MBI director of public affairs, told The Panolian his agency was notified of the death "a little after 7 a.m." Sunday

"The sheriff’s department asked us to assist," Strain said. "They pretty much turned it all over to us."

Panola County Coroner Donna Stevens said she was called to the scene Sunday morning where she examined Fowler’s body and ordered an autopsy.


Tax Hike Public Hearing Friday
Citizens who have an opinion about the South Panola School District’s budget and its plan to raise the ad valorem tax rate can do so at a public hearing on Friday.

The hearing is set for noon at the Parent Center on the campus of Batesville Intermediate Center at 200 College Street.

According to information provided by the district, it is now operating with projected total budget revenue of $20,624,364. Twenty-one percent or $4,305,008 of the revenue is proposed to be financed through a total ad valorem tax levy.

For the next fiscal year, the district plans to increase the tax millage rate by one mill from 40.92 mills to 41.92 mills, the district reported.

Study Predicts Difficulty Recruiting Doctors

Due to limited capital and patient volume at Tri-Lakes Medical Center it will be difficult for the hospital to recruit new physicians to replace doctors who may retire soon.

That’s one of the findings with regard to physicians revealed in an Ernst and Young study of TLMC.

Additionally, revenue is currently spending 110 days in accounts receivable and TLMC maintained less than 14 days cash on hand, the study said. It also exhibited nearly zero debt capacity and about -5 percent cash flow to debt.

Based on a comparison of various liquidity, capital structure and profitability ratios … to HUD mortgage insurance benchmarks, TLMC scored below average in nearly every area for each of the past three years.