Murder trial is delayed

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 9, 2013

Murder trial is delayed

The capital murder trial of James Willie was delayed until January 2014 if not later following a hearing Thursday morning in Panola County Circuit Court.

Willie is charged in the May 2012 shooting death of Nebraska resident Thomas Schlender who was murdered on I-55 near Pope. Willie is also charged with capital murder in the death of a Hernando woman shot three days later.

Panola County Circuit Clerk Melissa Meek Phelps had already mailed over 200 summons and made accommodations for the sequestered jury trial that had been scheduled for Monday, August 12.

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Court officials put in the record Thursday that Willie had turned down a plea agreement that offered him life without parole. Also put on record was the report that deemed Willie mentally fit to stand trial according to Assistant District Attorney Jay Hale.

According to Hale, defense attorneys asked for a year to prepare for the case with Judge Jimmy McClure allowing that the trial date would be taken up in the January session of Panola Circuit Court.