Headlines – 4/11/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – April 11, 2006

  From the 4/11/06 issue of The Panolian       

Law enforcement agencies raid, search Batesville ‘party house’
     Sgt. Dennis Darby (left), MHP K-9 officer, and drug dog Algo search the outside of a home at 116 Holly Cove in Batesville Friday afternoon during a drug bust. Police arrested one man during the raid. At far right is Batesville police officer Greg Jones, who was securing the scene.
By Jason C. Mattox
and Billy Davis

Law enforcement officers from three agencies raided a home in Batesville last week, responding to neighbors’ complaints of drug activity.

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Batesville police arrested Jerry Peters on suspicion of possession of marijuana and other narcotics at 116 Holly Cove Friday afternoon.

Peters, 30, is being held at the David M. Bryan Justice Complex.

Batesville police officers, Panola County sheriff’s deputies and troopers with the Miss. Highway Patrol participated in the drug raid.

With tornado sirens wailing due to bad weather, BPD detectives and an MHP K-9 unit searched the house as Peters sat handcuffed in the home’s living room. Exactly what was allegedly discovered was not released, however.

"At this point the case is still under investigation," said BPD Deputy Chief Tony Jones. "All I can say is some narcotics were discovered."

Holly Cove is located in west Batesville, north of Panola Avenue.

Peters, a tattoo artist, has been previously indicted in Panola County Circuit Court on one count of possession of precursors and one count of possession of crystal methamphetamine. He was scheduled to go to trial in August, 2005, but court records show the trial did not take place and no new trial date was scheduled.

According to Jones, Peters’ home was watched and finally raided after neighbors complained of frequent traffic in and out of the home.

The deputy chief described the home as a "party house."

"We know that he was operating an illegal tattoo parlor and was giving tatoos to underage kids," Jones said.

Bright taps deputy as investigator
By Billy Davis

Panola County Sheriff Hugh "Shot" Bright informed supervisors Monday that he is hiring a third crime investigator for the sheriff’s department.

Sheriff’s deputy Albert Perkins will fill the new slot May 1, Bright said.

Perkins’ new salary will be $2,479 monthly, a $100 monthly raise from his deputy position, the sheriff said.

Perkins will join sheriff’s investigators Mark Whitten and Barry Thompson, who investigate misdemeanors and work with the district attorney’s office to prosecute felonies.

An investigator’s slot was left empty by Craig Sheley, the former chief deputy who worked alongside Whitten and Thompson.

Perkins, 36, joined the sheriff’s department in 1998. He was formerly a Batesville police officer.

Bright also informed supervisors that he is interviewing a current Miss. Department of Corrections (MDOC) employee for a new jailer’s position with the department.

MDOC oversees state inmates who are housed at the county jail, and the new employee would work with the state agency to make sure the department is working within MDOC guidelines for the county work program.

MDOC officials investigated the sheriff’s department last summer for improperly assigning state inmate trusties to the MDOC work program.

Bright announced other May 1 hirings as well. Darius Smith will fill Perkins’ deputy slot, and Bo Matthews will worked as supervisor for an inmate highway clean-up crew.

Smith’s salary will start at $1,760 until he completes the academy.

Matthews’ salary will be $8 an hour. The Miss. Department of Transportation (MDOT) litter program he will oversee will reimburse the sheriff’s department at $10 hourly for four days a week.

"So we’ll basically be paying (Matthews) for one day’s work," Bright told supervisors.

MDOT is furnishing trash bags and trailers as their part of the clean-up program, Bright told supervisors.

Alleged murderer said ‘content’ with last-minute plea agreement
By Billy Davis

Accused murderer Marece Milton pleaded guilty Friday to manslaughter in Panola County Circuit Court, ending a year-old murder case just as jurors were voting on his fate.

Out of sight of the jury, attorneys for Milton worked out the plea agreement with Assistant District Attorney Robert Kelly, Panola Sheriff Hugh "Shot" Bright said Friday afternoon.

"Milton agreed to a 10-year sentence on manslaughter," Bright said.

Milton was charged with first-degree murder, accused of gunning down Roland Means on April 13, 2005, outside a home on Curtis Road.

Milton had testified in a Texas courtroom against Means, telling jurors that money found in their rental car by police was meant for the purchase of 20 kilograms of cocaine.

Police in Sulfur Springs, Texas found $270,291 in the trunk of their rental car during a traffic stop.

Means, who is from Milwaukee, Wis., was acquitted of the money laundering charge on April 12, the day before he was gunned down in the front yard of Vera and Eddie Poindexter’s trailer home.

Attorneys for Milton, brothers Kevin and Brennan Horan, built a self-defense case in front of the jury, arguing that Milton feared for his life and expected Means, a notorious convicted felon, to hunt him down and kill him.

Brennan Horan told The Panolian Friday that his client was "content" with the plea agreement and 10-year sentence.

Circuit Judge Ann Lamar gave jurors a wide berth to decide Miltons’ fate: find him guilty of murder, find him guilty of two varying forms of manslaughter, either "imperfect defense" or "heat of passion," or find the defendant not guilty.

Reached after the trial, juror Dr. Richard Corson said he and fellow jurors were "in the process of voting" on the manslaughter-imperfect defense charge when a courtroom bailiff asked jurors to return to the box.

The jury had been meeting for nearly four hours, he said.

"We felt like (Milton) was in a position where he felt he had to do something. He was in desperate straits," said Corson, declining further comment due to the sensitive nature of the jury deliberations.

Clark chosen for medical insurance
By John Howell Sr.

Batesville aldermen voted 4-0 last Tuesday to accept the quote of Clark Insurance Agency for Humana Insurance for medical insurance coverage for city employees and dependents, effective May 1.
Agency owner Brad Clark presented an alternate quote that offered the option of dependent coverage with a higher deductible and lower monthly cost in addition to the current options available.

City officials had considered quotes from Aetna and from Humana through the Whitten Insurance Agency during lengthy March meetings as well as the quote from Clark.

In other city business on Tuesday:
City hall will soon have additional emergency backup power in the event of an electrical outage. City Hall currently has only limited backup power.
     Aldermen accepted the low bid of Darby Electric for $6,790 for the electrical work required to connect equipment in the city hall building to a generator which will also supply power to fire station one;
Fire chief Tim Taylor presented a rough draft of a proposed commercial trash burning ordinance to city officials. The document sets policy, permits and fees for the burning of certain material inside the city and will be reviewed by the mayor, aldermen and assistant city attorney Colmon Mitchell;
Aldermen also approved Taylor’s request for the training of firemen as follows: Travis Inman for Haz-Mat Tech I, Rip Copeland for Fire Officer training, and James Snyder and Joe Warren for Fire Investigator training, all at the Mississippi Fire Academy at different times during April and May;
The fire chief’s recommendation to move Warren to the position of shift leader was also approved. He moves into that position as replacement for Copeland who was moved off shift when he was named fire and life safety officer;
Training requests from police chief Gerald Legge were also approved. Paul Shivers will attend a FBI National Academy Graduates Conference at Pearl and Gray Nickels will attend a FBI Firearms Instructor School at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Officer Training Facility
Aldermen also approved a request from police officer
Jud Moore that he be allowed to work while off duty for Cobra Security.
Police sergeant Billy Sossaman’s request to re-enlist in the Mississippi National Guard was approved.
City officials also voted to advertise for bids for residential garbage pickup. The current contract with BFI expires June 30.
Aldermen consider enlisting help of Warrant Network
By Jason C. Mattox

The City of Batesville is considering participating in the Mississippi Warrant Network, a group that helps collect past due fines and contempt of court money.
Paul Newman of the Mississippi Warrant Network appeared before the mayor and board of aldermen during their Tuesday meeting last week to gauge their interest in the program.

"First things first, we are not a collection agency," he said. "We don’t collect the fines; we go after contempt of court judgments."

Newman said his agency will mail letters to people with delinquent fines and ask that they be paid to the city.

"My daddy always told me not to put my hands on someone else’s money," he said. "So we simply request they send the money to you."

In return, the Mississippi Warrant Network receives 25 percent of each past due fine they collect.

"Now, I know that sounds like a lot, but the state law allows you to add 25 percent to the in-state tickets and 50 percent to the out-of-state tickets," he said. "And unless these people have dropped off the face of the earth, we can find them."

Newman’s company is working in Sardis, Como and several other municipalities and counties throughout the state, he said.

"In the past three years, we have been able to collect more than $3 million for counties and cities in old fines," he said.

The board members voted to take the matter under advisement.



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