Headlines – 11/18/2003

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Panolian Headlines: November 18, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 11/18/03  issue of The Panolian

Around-the-World Trip Will Begin Here
Celebrities to Pilot First King Air
Owner of the plane that will fly around the world, Alex Major, and Larry Freeman of The Hangar, Inc., met recently to discuss the renovations of the plane and plans for the flight.

Actor Morgan Freeman is just one of the celebrities who will fly a leg of an historic trip around the world in this Beechcraft King Air plane now being restored at The Hangar, Inc., at the Panola County Airport.

When they couldn’t get any support for their project from Raytheon Aircraft Corporation in Wichita, Kan., the owners of the first Beechcraft King Air, serial number LJ-1, made the decision to move the airplane to Mississippi for restoration.

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Alex Major, who originally purchased the King Air LJ-1 in 1985, grew up in Jackson and took his first flying lesson at Bruce Campbell Field in Madison at the age of 17.

Major, now an international entrepreneur who has worked and lived all over the world, has family in Mississippi and has been investigating business opportunities in the state in the fields of aviation and renewable energy for a number of years.

Hentz Makes Prison Break
at Parchman
Former Pope resident Larry Hentz, who was serving two life sentences in the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, escaped from there Thursday.

Hentz, 54, is a habitual offender and is to be considered dangerous, MDOC spokesman said.

He was discovered missing about 9:45 a.m. from Unit 24B. Two holes were found in the fence that surrounds the unit.

Hentz was serving a three-year sentence for general burglary from Tallahatchie County, a life sentence for homicide in Tate County, a five-year sentence for receiving stolen property in Panola County, a five-year sentence for grand larceny in Lafayette County and a life sentence for property crime in Panola County.

Anti-Junk Law Enforcement
Sprucing Up Neighborhoods
Junk vehicles like this one are becoming history under the city’s anti-junk ordinance.
So far, the city’s code enforcement office has only had to write two citations based upon refusals from citizens to warnings they clean up their junk.

But even those people had their messes gone before the case went to court, said City Building Inspector John McCollum.

"I guess they didn’t want to pay the fine," McCollum said of the fine that runs $1,000 a day.

After the City Board passed its anti-junk law last summer, McCollum has been busy going street-by-street, in alphabetical order, in search of his prey.

Old cars – without tags, sitting up on blocks, with grass growing into the engine compartment and the like – constitute the biggest portion of the junk McCollum sees.

So far, 80 junked cars have been removed and he estimates there’s about 200 left to go.


28 years later …
Man Pleads Guilty to Being Child Rapist

By Kate B. Dickson

It took 28 years.

But three adult family members of the man they say raped and molested them when they were little girls saw their uncle taken out of a Tate County Courtroom Friday in Senatobia on his way to prison.

Earlier in the day, James "Hop" Hall, 53, former head machinist at Springs Industries in Sardis, entered a guilty plea to one charge of rape as part of a negotiated plea with the district attorney’s office.

He was represented by Gerald Chatham Sr. of Hernando. The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Rhonda Amis.

District Court Judge Andrew C. Baker sentenced Hall to the minimum – 20 years – and agreed that whatever parole laws were in effect 28 years ago will apply in this case. The maximum sentence allowable to the rape charge that carries no statute of limitations is life in prison.

To the end, however, Hall, of Sarah, denied he raped any of the victims saying only that he "touched" them inappropriately.

Hall’s character witnesses, including family members, his former minister and co-workers, all told the same story.

Each talked about what a good person Hall was, a good "family man" and "a good Christian."

None could believe Hall is capable of such a crime.

Death Penalty Eligibility,
     IQ Level at Issue
By Kate B. Dickson

A mental competency hearing for accused capital murderer and rapist Edward Dickson Jr., has been continued until 9 a.m. Thursday in Panola County Circuit Court in Batesville.

Dickson’s hearing was continued after his attorney, David Walker, objected Friday to the submission of a mental evaluation report which would not have given him the opportunity to cross examine the doctor who prepared it.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Kelly did not challenge Walker’s position, the defense lawyer said, during a hearing in chambers with Circuit Court Judge Andrew C. Baker.

"The state wanted to introduce the report," Walker told The Panolian. "That would be hearsay. I need to cross examine the doctor and Mr. Kelly agrees."

Walker said at least one of the physicians who examined Dickson at the Mississippi State Hospital is set to testify Thursday.

The report, on file in Panola County Circuit Court, says Dickson, 20, of Sardis, is mentally competent to stand trial.

But, Walker says, it shows Dickson’s IQ is 75, five points above 70 which the attorney says is the "cut-off point for the death penalty" as has been ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Obviously," Walker said, " the question is what is the deviation of error" on the IQ test.

Walker confirmed the state will seek the death penalty against Dickson for May 3 slaying of Alvin Herring, 84, of Courtland. He’s also charged with critically wounding Herring’s wife, Verlena, 75, during the home invasion robbery.

Dickson’s also charged with the April 14 kidnapping and rape of a 70-year-old Sardis woman who was attacked when she returned home.

That victim was beaten with a fire poker and a brick and has since recovered after undergoing rehabilitation.

In the Sardis case, Dickson is accused of stealing money, keys and the gun which may have been used to shoot the Herrings.

Dickson, who has confessed to both crimes, according to court records, is being held in the Lafayette County Detention Center without bond.

Osborn Birthday
Julia H. Osborn of Sardis will hit the Century mark on Dec. 10, 2003.

There will be a pre-celebration program and dinner on Nov. 29, at 2 p.m. at Pleasant Fellowship Hall in Sardis on Hwy. 51 North, sponsored by her daughter Vernice Roberson and grandchildren J.T. Jr. James, Oke, Earnestine and Ann.