Trial begins August 12 for accused I-55 shooter 7/31/2013

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Trial begins August 12 for accused I-55 shooter

By Rupert Howell

Jury summons for the August 12  murder trial of James Willie have been mailed according to Panola County Circuit Clerk Melissa Meek-Phelps.

Willie is charged with the May 8, 2012 murder of Nebraska resident Thomas Schlender who shot as he was passing through Panola County near the Pope-Courtland exit on his way to pick up a grandchild in Florida.

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Willie was also charged with capital murder in the death of Lori Anne Carswell, shot three days later in Hernando.

The two deaths lead to an intense investigation putting the entire northwest Mississippi area on edge.

But a week later, on May 15, Willie was first arrested in Tunica after police there responded to a disturbance call at an apartment on Old Highway 61.

 A woman alleged she had been raped and Willie was charged with rape, kidnapping and aggravated assault. He had discharged  a 9mm firearm during an argument with the woman and  authorities decided to have ballistic tests performed.

That test was a positive match for the the murder weapon according to Tunica County Sheriff K.C. Hamp who told reporters back in May of 2012 that both Schleder and Carswell had died from 9mm bullets fired from the same weapon.

Matt Anderson, Schlender’s son-in-law, said during the investigation that the family would be here when the culprit was tried in a court of law.

“We want them to know what they took from us,” Anderson stated.