Courts: Murder trial set, verdicts rendered in 2012

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

This is the second in a series of stories updating courts news from 2012.

By Patsy R. Brumfield
Daily Journal
TUPELO – Plans for a double-murder trial, other trials and two appeals mark headline cases in Lee County area courts this year.
Travon Brown, 27, will stand trial in Lee County accused of the shooting deaths of Cornellius Harris, 22, and Felicia Ruffin, 36, at a residence on Chapman Street.
Brown has been held in the Lee County Jail on $1 million bond since his arrest Sept. 29, 2011.
His trial is set to begin Feb. 5 before Circuit Judge Jim Seth Pounds.
The first circuit court term of 2013 begins Feb. 4 after a January meeting of a Lee County grand jury.
More than 450 cases are set on the docket dominated by drug and property crime charges.

Manslaughter plea
Thomas James Ward continues serving a 14-year sentence at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility for the 2010 shooting death of girlfriend Anna Catherine McCoy.
A Lee County jury could not convict Ward after an emotional, nine-day trial last May and Circuit Judge James L. Roberts Jr. declared a mistrial.
Ward, 25, insisted McCoy’s death was a tragic accident, not the result of his negligence.
But in the face of a second trial, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 20 years, with six years suspended and credit for time he’d already served in jail.
McCoy was a popular 20-year-old soccer player at Itawamba Community College when she died. Her family also was well-known in the area, especially because her father, Cotton McCoy, was a longtime Tupelo police officer.

Death sentence
David Cox Sr. of Pontotoc County waits on death row at the state penitentiary for the 2010 shooting death of his wife, Kim, and seven other charges associated with holding her hostage with three of her children in Sherman.
In Union County, Cox pleaded guilty to the murder, a jail escape and the other crimes.
Last September, a Union County jury listened to two weeks of testimony and decided 42-year-old Cox deserved to die.
Circuit Judge John Gregory sentenced him, and the Mississippi Department of Corrections took custody of him shortly after.
Gregory recently denied Cox’s attorney’s requests for reconsideration in what is likely to be a lengthy appeals process common for death penalty cases.

Appeals
In a long-running dispute over a bus with connections to Elvis Presley, its former owner Bill Kinard of Tupelo will appeal a court-ordered sale of the vehicle.
His attorney also filed a motion to halt the vehicle’s transfer to new owner, Tupelo businessman Larry Michael, pending the appeal.
For the past two years, Kinard and Michael have disputed debts associated with retrieval of the bus from Washington State in early 2009 and some $134,000 in costs connected with that trip and the vehicle’s partial “restoration.”
Ultimately, Chancellor Talmadge Littlejohn ordered the bus put up for sale and Michael won the bid.
Throughout, Kinard – who sued as Legacy Hall of Fame Inc., a celebrity memorabilia facility – claimed he never intended to sell the bus and that he was under medication when he agreed to do so.
In another case, Tupelo attorney Kirk Tharp filed notice to appeal his Dec. 3 Lee County Justice Court conviction that he assaulted a Mooreville teenager last September.
The notice stated Tharp’s intent to take the case to county court, although no other action was reflected in the county’s electronic filing system.
Tharp, who also serves as Sherman’s prosecuting attorney and Mantachie’s municipal judge, insists he did not assault anybody as he responded to verbal threats coming from the vehicle drive by 18-year-old Kurtis Yarbrough.
The slender teenager said the much larger Tharp attacked him, injured him and broke at least one of his two hearing aids in the alleged attack.
After a 3 1/2 hour hearing Nov. 29, Judge Sadie Holland found Tharp guilty and ordered him to pay a fine.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com