Darby: collaboration among law agencies aided case against Willie 6/6/2014

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 6, 2014

James D. Willie

Darby: collaboration among law agencies aided case against Willie

By Rupert Howell

Panola County Sheriff Dennis Darby praised law enforcement officers in Tunica County, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Mississippi Highway Patrol, prosecutors and the jury following Tuesday’s murder conviction of James Willie.

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“I just want to praise all the different agencies and individuals that helped with this case,” Darby said following the verdict.

Law enforcement was ever present at this week’s trial that began Monday and ended late Tuesday afternoon.

A capital murder trial for Willie in Tunica ended in a mistrial after officers had to take action in the courtroom to restrain Willie.

Also, unrest immediately following a trial in Batesville earlier this year that made court officials uneasy has prompted greater security during high profile trials.

Although there were no altercations or outbursts during Willie’s trial this week, Willie’s prior record gave cause for concern.

He had served two years in prison after being convicted of burglary in 2002 and was released in 2004 on probation.

According to a news story published in 2012, he violated his probation by threatening to kill a Miss. Department of Corrections parole officer and went back to prison in 2005.

According to the account, Willie was angry that he had failed two drug tests administered by parole officers that would have threatened his status.

The news story, written by former Panolian writer Billy Davis, stated, “. . .Willie told the counselor he planned to shoot the parole officers with a deer rifle from the press box at Tiger Stadium.”

Court documents showed that Willie was sent back to prison because of the threat, the failed drug test, and misdemeanor traffic violations in Batesville in 2004.

Willie’s release date was set for 2013 according to the news story, but he was released in April 2010 after qualifying for an early release program.