Trial set to start Tuesday
By Rupert Howell
“Of course we are trying to keep the courthouse as safe and secure as possible, but our other goal is to keep citizens’ access to county services as uninhibited as possible,” Panola County Sheriff Major Barry Thompson said Thursday in anticipation of next week’s capital murder trial of Quinton Tellis in the death of Jessica Chambers in December of 2014.
Thompson has been tasked with security by Sheriff Dennis Darby and stated spectators will be allowed in the courtroom on a first come first served basis although areas have been reserved for families of the victim, defendant, the media, and courtroom staff. Metal detectors will be in use. No cell phones, bags or purses are allowed in courtroom.
Persons needing courthouse services from the Circuit or Chancery Clerks’ offices should enter the building from the south entrance, the entrance facing Court Street.
Those citizens needing services from the County’s Tax Assessor/Collector’s Offices and the County Administrator’s Office including payment of garbage bills, should enter from the north entrance facing the railroad track.
Spectators and those persons needing county services should also park in the downtown square parking areas as the front parking area will be used by media and the back parking area on Broadway will be used by courtroom officials, courthouse staff and witnesses. The back entrance from that parking area will be only for officials, staff and witnesses.
Thompson said deputies and Batesville Police officers will be handling security points throughout the building and surrounding areas and will be glad to direct citizens to their intended courthouse destination.
Court officials and Sheriff Deputies will leave for Pike County Sunday to be ready for Monday’s jury selection.
Circuit Clerk Melissa Meek-Phelps said Thursday that workers have been readying the courthouse for the onslaught of media with maintenance, electrical repairs, mulching flower beds and other details.
“I just want things to be like they are supposed to be,” Phelps said Thursday while carrying out her regular duties. She recently went to the supervisor board to alert them she was moving ahead with previously discussed maintenance after determining it needed to be done quickly.
Phelps will also be in Pike County Monday morning for jury selection. When they return to Batesville Tuesday, they will be under her care.