Grand jury: Young men were partners in crime
By By Suzanne Monk / managing editor
May 5, 2002
After Lauderdale County Circuit Court officials release a grand jury's indictment list, The Meridian Star's staff reorganizes it and publishes it broken down alphabetically by the kinds of indictments issued for alleged "violent crimes," "property crimes," "drug crimes," etc.
The indictments issued by a grand jury in March was released into the public record on Wednesday.
While the number of armed robbery indictments was high, more alarming was the fact that the majority were issued against two young men who allegedly worked as a team.
Nineteen-year-old Phillip Todd and 22-year-old Michael Amos Carr were indicted for six armed robberies that occurred in August and November of last year.
All involved small amounts of money. In two cases, on Nov. 12 and 21, the indictments do not list specific circumstances.
Other indictments against the pair involve attacks on: 1) Aug. 4, in the parking lot of Northwood Country Club; 2) Aug. 8, when a pizza delivery man was robbed; 3) Aug. 25, when a man was robbed on the way to his motel room; and 4) Nov. 21, another attack on a pizza delivery man.
In addition, Todd was also indicted with a different partner for the Oct. 18 armed robbery and kidnapping of a Steak-Out delivery man.
Bomb threat: An employee, or former employee, of East Mississippi State Hospital has been indicted for calling in a bomb threat to the hospital on Oct. 20.
Patrick Laurence Barnett, 46, was indicted as a habitual offender, which means he will receive the maximum sentence if convicted by a jury. Some leeway is possible if he pleads guilty, which hasn't happened so far.
To be prosecuted as a habitual offender, a defendant has to have two prior felony convictions one of them a crime of violence.
In Barnett's case, both prior convictions came on Jan. 13, 1992, when he was sentenced to a total of 24 years for first-degree arson and aggravated assault. The crimes occurred in Codington County, S.D.
Barnett had been free on $10,000 bond, but his bail bondsman surrendered him back to the custody of the sheriff's department on April 12. His trial has been initially set for June 13.
Manslaughter appeal: The Mississippi Court of Appeals has asked Circuit Judge Larry Roberts to submit a report explaining certain aspects of how the jury was chosen in George Aguilar's August 2000 manslaughter trial.
Meridian attorney Jim Williams based his appeal of Aguilar's conviction on a number of issues. One of them had to do with "peremptory challenges."
Peremptory challenges occur during jury selection. After potential jurors are interviewed, the judge sits down with prosecution and defense lawyers and moderates a discussion about which 12 are acceptable to both sides.
Lawyers need reasons to reject most potential jurors but during that discussion, each side also has the right to excuse, or "strike," a certain number for no reason at all. It's called a peremptory challenge.
While rejecting Aguilar's appeal in the main, the Court of Appeals has asked for more information about peremptory challenges in his trial.