Testimony reveals events leading to murder of Roary Thomas
By Ashley Crutcher
Testimony from Detective Justin Maples during Wednesday’s session of Batesville Municipal Court provided insight on the events that led to the shooting death of Roary Thomas on March 2 in Batesville.
Cordarius D. Strong of 107 Cedar Crest Drive, Batesville, was brought back to Municipal Court after attorney David Walker was apppointed to defend him.
New testimony from Batesville Police Detective Justin Maples suggested there was a fourth person present during the shooting death of Thomas.
Law enforcement officials believe Strong and a second capital murder defendant, Nakia Lamar, were looking to purchase drugs when Chris Whitten set up a drug deal among the three men and Thomas, Maples said under questioning by City Prosecutor Ryan Revere.
“The four of them were in the car with Thomas in the driver’s seat, Whitten in the front passenger seat, Strong directly behind Thomas and Lamar behind Whitten,” said Detective Maples who has interviewed witnesses. “During the deal Strong demanded Thomas ‘Gimme all you got’ and Thomas tried to get out of the car. That’s when Strong shot him from the back.” Maples said.
According to the testimony, Strong admitted to shooting Thomas in the shoulder. The official autopsy report has not been issued by the state medical examiner.
Defense attorney Walker asked if the murder weapon had been recovered. A simple “No” from Detective Maples brought the preliminary hearing to a close as Judge Jay Westfaul bound the case over to the Panola County Grand Jury.
Panolian archives show Strong was charged with two others in a September 24, 2014 armed robbery of a pizza delivery driver where he allegedy held a pistol to the delivery driver’s head during the robbery. Strong was 13.
Strong’s Cousin, Lashaundra Clark of 3705 Kings Beach, Memphis, was denied a bond reduction after being determined as a flight risk. Clark’s appointed attorney, Jeff Padgett, argued, “She is not a flight risk. She turned herself in when she discovered she was wanted. A $250,000 bond might as well be no bond.”
City Prosecutor Ryan Revere argued Clark was a flight risk due to her residing in Memphis, another state. “They all have the same bond,” said Revere.
Clark’s case has been bound over to the grand jury where if found guilty she could face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, according to Judge Westfaul.
Wesley Conner, age 16, of 150 MLK Drive, Batesville, was charged with felony conspiracy to commit armed robbery and simple assault.
Three victims reported walking to SpringFest May 20 and being stopped by two suspects, Jamico Smalley and Conner, and robbed at gunpoint, according to testimony from Detective Jeremiah Brown.
According to testimony, Smalley was reportedly holding the weapon and Conner confessed to taking a cell phone as well as assaulting the victims. One of the victims is the cousin of Conner.
“Due to the his age, a bond reduction is in order,” said Judge Westfaul. Conner’s bond was reduced from $250,000 to $100,000 under the conditions that he live with his mother, no firearms, stays in Mississippi., and is either at home or school at all times. The case has been bound over to Circuit Court.
Truman Johnson of 93 Will Stewart Rd., Batesville, was found guilty of disorderly conduct-failure to comply, driving while license suspended and no proof of insurance.
According to the testimony of Officer Will Parrish, Johnson pulled into the Kangaroo at the intersection of Hwy. 6 and Hwy. 51 in a white Oldsmobile with loud pipes.
“I knew three weeks ago Johnson didn’t have a license. So I asked him if he ever got a driver’s license. He told me ‘I ain’t gotta show you nothing’ and became disorderly,” said Officer Parrish as he provided video footage of the incident.
“He can’t know me, that’s harassment. What’s the Mayor’s number?” said Johnson.
Johnson is seen in the video upset, stating “you can’t just ask me that.”
Officer Parrish attempted to explain, “All I need is reasonable suspicion.”
Judge Westfaul sentenced Johnson to 10 days in the Panola County Jail and allotted 30 days for him to pay the fine in the amount of $1,633.
“Officer had cause with the loud noise coming from the tail pipe. You were very belligerent,” said the judge.
Johnie Williams of 19049 Hwy. 51 S., Batesville, failed to appear to answer charges for simple assault to create fear. The case was dismissed as affiant Alfred Ballard failed to appear to prosecute.
James Alexander of 96 Outlaw Hill Rd., Batesville, changed his plea to guilty and was ordered to attend MASEP classes. Alexander also faces a $779 fine to be paid in 30 days.
Michael Ballentine of 598 E Lee St., Sardis, pleaded guilty to shoplifting. Ballentine has six months to pay off his total fines of $2,292.
Chadrick Rudd of 236-B MLK, Batesville, pleaded guilty to no proof of insurance and driving while license suspended (implied consent), which means his license was previously suspended due to a DUI, adding another six months to the suspension, according to law enforcement officials.
Rudd was represented by attorney David Walker who asked that Rudd’s charge of leaving the scene of an accident be remanded to the court files. The judge agreed to remand the charges. Rudd has 30 days to pay the $1,261 fine.
Devan Gordon of 228 Perkins Lane., Batesville, failed to appear for possession of paraphernalia charges. Alright Bonding has been notified.
Cathy Carter of 509 Magnolia St., Sardis, pleaded not guilty to shoplifting from Tractor Supply. A trial date has been set for August 16.
Crissie Campbell of 717 Bowen Rd., Sardis pleaded not guilty to a second shoplifting offense. Campbell advised she was going to find a lawyer but stated she hadn’t looked for one yet.
“Come back next week after seeing three attorneys. If you can’t find anyone to represent you I will appoint you an attorney,” said Judge Westfaul.
A trial date has been set for August 16.
Dominique Patterson of 318 Panola Ave., Batesville, was charged with contempt of court for old unpaid fines from April of 2016. Patterson was credited for the 16 days he served in the Panola County Jail. Patterson has three weeks to pay the remaining $762 fine.
Terrence Ellis of 109 Jones St., Courtland, failed to appear to answer charges for contempt of court for old unpaid fines from May of 2016. Alright Bonding Company has been notified.
Randarrious Salter of 83 Graham Rd., Sardis, was charged with felony fleeing, no proof of insurance, no tag, running red light, reckless driving, speeding 55MPH in a 15MPH zone, running a stop sign and no driver’s license. Salter’s bond remains at $25,000 and the case has been bound over to the Panola County Grand Jury.
Marlon J. Tucker Jr. of 1229 Heafner Rd., Batesville, was charged with burglary and petit larceny. Judge Westfaul determined probable cause does exist in the case. The District Attorney has a hold on Tucker for other charges. Attorney Azki Shah was said to be representing Tucker.
James D. Barber of Patton Lane., Batesville, was charged with aggravated assault. Barber is being represented by attorney Jeff Padgett who requested a bond reduction on Barber’s current $50,000 bond.
Judge Westfaul reduced the bond to $40,000 and bound the case over to the Grand Jury. Barber was also charged with simple assault on February of 2015. This case is to be continued.