Bonds for Wright murder

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 27, 2012

Bonds set for alleged killers

By John Howell Sr.

Bond has been set a $1 million each for four suspects in the January 16 gang-style murder of Jeremiah Wright.

The four men were slated for their first court appearance during the regular session of Batesville Municipal Court on Wednesday. Security concerns prompted Municipal Judge Bill McKenzie to take the unusual step of moving the initial appearance to the Panola County jail at the David M. Bryan Justice Complex where Judge Pro Tempore Jay Westfaul presided.

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Each man appeared separately before Judge Westfaul in a small conference room inside the secured area of the building. Friends and family members were restricted to the lobby of the facility.

Batesville Police Captain Paul Shivers, BPD administrative assistant Beverly Pope, and a reporter were present the judge as jailers brought each defendant to the room.

Marcus Tyrone Wheatley, 28, of 25643 Highway 35 North, Sardis, went first. The judge explained the purpose of the initial appearance and informed him that he was charged with murder. Westfaul also told Wheatley about his rights, including the right to an attorney and the right to have an attorney appointed if he could not afford one.

When Wheatley told Westfaul his grandmother was making arrangements for an attorney, the judge appointed attorney Larry Maxey to represent him anyway, “since you haven’t spoken to one.”

“I don’t want to see him; I want to appoint myself because I know I’ve got an attorney,” Wheatley said.

The judge then asked the defendant about whether he owned property, a vehicle or possessed any cash.
Wheatley’s only positive response was that he owned an ‘81 Chevy Malibu.

“The court determines he’s a flight risk and sets bond at $1 million,” said Westfaul.

The judge told Wheatley that he had the right to a preliminary hearing within 30 days. After Wheatley was escorted from the room, the judge ignored Wheatley’s objection to the appointed attorney, telling Pope to list Maxey as his attorney.

“I want to fax those (paperwork) to the lawyers today,” Westfaul said.

After Wheatley was taken away, jailers brought Jayson D. Dishmon, 779 Belmont Road, Apt. 16, Sardis, into the room. Each man’s appearance followed the same protocol with the judge explaining the purpose, charge and defendant’s rights.

David Walker was appointed as attorney for the 28-year-old Dishmon, who offered the only comment on the bond.

“One million dollars!” Dishmon exclaimed.

“One million dollars,” the judge replied, emphatically.

Michael D. Fondren, 22, 18  Ernestine Turner Road, Sardis came next. Tommy Defer was appointed as his attorney.

Bond for Fondren was set at $1 million as was bond for Marico L. Fondren, 1078 Rockhill Road, Sardis, at age 17 the youngest defendant yet charged. John Watson was appointed as Fondren’s attorney.

Wright was shot around noon, January 16 on Vance Street by gunmen who fled on foot. Investigators are still seeking several witnesses who have left town but whose identities are known, Shivers said Monday.

Information gleaned during the investigation from other witnesses led officers to take the Fondrens (kinship not presently known), Dishmon and Wheatley into custody the next day. They were charged several days later.