Milam found not guilty of robbing Circle K store

Published 7:56 am Wednesday, February 1, 2023

A Panola County jury took about 30 minutes to return verdicts of not guilty in last week’s armed robbery trial of Jason Milam, accused by Batesville Police and the District Attorney’s office of holding up the Circle K convenience store at the corner of Hwys. 6 and 51 last spring.

Milam was charged with armed robbery of the store clerk, who was his twin brother Jacob Milam, and a customer who was in the business about 5:30 a.m. on May 17, 2022.

Milam’s attorney, Rhea Tannehill of Oxford, built the defense around the fact that all but one of the original identifications of Milam as the perpetrator recanted their testimonies and that video surveillance footage from the store’s security system could  not be produced by the prosecution.

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Further bolstering Milam’s defense was testimony by a Batesville woman who told jurors her unemployed boyfriend came home with several packs of Newport cigarettes and Black & Mild cigars the morning of the robbery, and later had a sum of unexplained cash.

Milam’s sister-in-law also told the court that he was at her apartment complex in Batesville about 6:30 a.m. that morning to help her start her car, and that she had seen him lying in bed on a video call about 30 minutes earlier when she called for help. Milam’s wife also testified he had been in bed until shortly after 6 a.m. and produced phone log records showing the conversation between them and her sister.

Additionally, Milam’s supervisors at Inca Presswood Pallets in Sardis testified that he saw him shortly before 7 a.m. performing his usual Monday morning duties and that he appeared normal.

Prosecutors used a timeline to show that Milam could have committed the crime and still helped with sister-in-law and been at work on time, but couldn’t rebut the witnesses who recanted their original identifications.

Only the person robbed in the store maintained that Milam was guilty.

Milam was arrested at Inca a few days after the robbery based on tips from two other law enforcement officers – Panola County Deputy Maurice Market and Highway Patrolman Hughey McDaniel. Both, seeing still photos from the surveillance cameras, told Batesville PD investigators that they believed Milam was the person they were seeking.

Both officers, upon seeing the video, told police that Milam was not the culprit. Market was especially adamant on the witness stand that he had mistaken Milam because the still photos were blurry. He told the court that he immediately knew he had made a misidentification when he saw the video, saying it was much clearer.

The defense team wanted to use the video as evidence, but learned in December the footage was missing. At a pre-trial hearing, a Batesville investigator told Judge Smith Murphey the video had disappeared when a former police employee left the department.

Evidence footage from cameras is generally stored on flash drives in the evidence locker, but the robbery video could not be found.

“Jason and his family are thankful that the jury listened to and examined the evidence in his case. Now they can move on with their lives. Justice was served,” Tannehill said.