Batesville Municipal Court

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 13, 2015

Municipal court testimony reveals serious problems during first appearance

By Emily Williams and Rupert Howell
Judge Jay Westfaul explained to a Batesville man charged with armed robbery that he was not entitled to a bond during Batesville Municipal Court held Wednesday.

Jonathan J. Turner, 1573 Shell Rd., Batesville, was charged with simple assault and armed robbery after law enforcement officers were notified Monday, January 26 by alarm at 12:53 p.m. that there was an emergency at Renasant Bank on Bates Street at Perkins Lane.

The Panolian reported in the January 27 edition that Police Chief Tony Jones said, the bank employees were able to tell the first responding officers what the suspect and his vehicle looked like and his direction of flight—west on Perkins Lane–in spite of the robber having fired his handgun inside the bank during the robbery.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“He shot one time into the wall,” the police chief said. “Don’t know whether it was an accident or whether he was trying to scare them.”

During court the judge reviewed Turner’s files.

“In May 2011 you were placed in the RID program and given a 10 year sentence. Now you are here for bank robbery and shooting a gun in the bank. It’s the opinion of the court that you are not entitled to a bond,” said Westfaul.

“Do you have a lawyer?” Westfaul asked.

“No,” replied Turner.

“Can you afford a lawyer?” the judge asked.

“No,” Turner replied again.

Judge Westfaul appointed Attorney David Walker to the case and remanded the defendant back into the sheriff’s custody without a bond.

Brendan E. Smith, 1330 Hadorn Rd., Batesville, was represented by attorney Davey Tucker for two counts of aggravated assault (shooting at two vehicles) on January 20. The Panola County Arrest Log lists Smith as “manifesting extreme indifference to human life.”

Smith’s attorney requested the $100,000 bond be reduced to $25,000 per count.

Though this was an initial appearance and not a preliminary hearing, Smith’s attorney requested character witnesses to speak on Smith’s behalf as to why his bond reduction should be granted.

“Do you think it’s necessary to call all of these people for an informal hearing?” the judge asked.
“He’s not a threat to the community. $100,000 bond is excessive at this time. He serves no purpose in jail,” Attorney Tucker said.

Tucker proceeded to call character witnesses.

The first witness was Darrin Ford who said, “I know Brendan from working with park and recreation. He helped us a few times at the Boys and Girls Club. He goes to school and I don’t see this in his character.”

Ford told the court he had no knowledge of the details of Smith’s charges.

Smith’s mother, Donna Richmond told the judge, “I am his mother. If there was ever a nice kid, it’s this child. I am proud of him participating in the community and helping with children.”
The defendant’s father, Leonard Smith told the judge that his son was a good kid and he was not a flight risk.

“He’s the type of child that’s straight. It doesn’t fit him. I believe false accusations were made and the gang wanted him. They were wanting to recruit,” his father said speaking of others involved in the shooting.

The city’s prosecuting attorney, Ryan Revere advised the court that Smith was a flight risk.
A detective from the Batesville Police Department testified that there could have easily been a fatality and the defendant admitted to having gang ties and that he could be a flight risk due to having gang ties.

“If anything the bond was set too low,” the detective added.

Smith is the alleged driver and shooter according to testimony with the detective stating, “He asked where two of our officers lived. It had us concerned as we got more information,” a detective said.

The judge took the case under advisement.

The court later noted that Smith would not be granted a bond reduction.
Contempt of court

Terrance Griffin, 2827 Hentz Rd., Courtland, had a warrant issued after failing to appear to answer charges for contempt of court-old fines of $1,586 that have been due since October 2011.

Jennifer Costilow, 114 Thornton, Tutwiler, had old fines of $2,533.50 due since April 2014.
She told the judge she would come up with the money after he told her she would serve 60 days in jail.

Joshua M. Cannon, 131 Vance St., Batesville, was sentenced to 60 days in jail after failing to pay old fines of $2,122 that have been due since May 2013.

Charlotte Wilkerson, 1067 Carlisle Rd., Courtland, was found guilty of shoplifting bracelets, a purse and hat from Wal-Mart on January 9.

An asset protection officer from Wal-Mart showed the court surveillance video of Wilkerson taking the items.

Wilkerson told the judge she was walking to her truck to get the money to pay for the items.
“You stole  those items and you intended to shoplift,” the judge ruled.

She was fined $1,146.

Lucas L. Gleaton, 744 Green Rd., Pope, entered a guilty plea to simple possession of marijuana and was fined $443.

Berrick Gates, 111 Browning St., Batesville, entered a guilty plea to possession of marijuana in a vehicle and no seat belt. He was fined $718.

Christina Williams, 597 Bill Wallace Rd., Sardis, entered a guilty plea to DUI (BAC .23), child endangerment, careless driving and simple possession of controlled substance.

She was sentenced to 12 days in jail and ordered to pay her fines of $1,804 in 45 days. She also had old fines of $375 due since August 2010.

Jonathan Parker, 302 Patton Lane, Batesville, had a case for DUI-refusal continued. He’s represented by Attorney Helen Kelly.