Batesville man seeks payment for prison time

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — A Batesville man is trying to get Mississippi to pay him for six years he spent in prison on a murder conviction that has since been thrown out.

John Randall Alexander, 49, is fighting to be recognized by the state as a person wrongly convicted so he can be compensated, based on state law.

Alexander was initially convicted in 1989 in the death of Neil Smith, who was run over by a vehicle on a rural Panola County road in 1987.

Alexander was released in 1995 after witnesses in the case recanted. A new trial was ordered, but he was never retried. A circuit judge dismissed the charge with prejudice last year, meaning it can never be brought back up again.

“I have proven my innocence,” Alexander told The Clarion-Ledger.

During his trial, a couple testified he confessed to the crime, Alexander said. Alexander said he and Smith had an argument but he didn’t go back and kill him.

A judge dismissed his request for compensation in December at the request of the state attorney general’s office because he had not provided the required documentation.

Alexander recently refiled his petition in Panola County Circuit Court.

So far, four former inmates have been granted state compensation for being wrongly convicted. At least eight have sought money.

The four men who have been approved for state compensation are: Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks, both of Noxubee County, Arthur Johnson of Sunflower County and Cedric Willis of Hinds County.

Rob McDuff, an attorney for the four, said they will each collect up to $50,000 a year for 10 years.

The money can never repay what was taken from the men, but it can help them try to rebuild their lives, McDuff said.

Alexander is hoping he can join the list. He said he was told by the attorney general’s office he was eligible to receive $281,000.