Hearing set for Thursday in highway shooting case

Court NewsThe Associated Press

SARDIS, Miss. (AP) — The suspect in the north Mississippi highway shootings blamed for two deaths last year is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Thursday.

James D. Willie is charged in the deaths of Thomas K. Schlender and Lori Anne Carswell.

The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/13ME3ns) reports that the 29-year-old man’s trial in Schlender’s death was scheduled for Monday.

But District Attorney John Champion says he will ask for a continuance during the pretrial hearing in Panola County.

Schlender, of Raymond, Neb. was found May 8, 2012. He had been shot to death inside his 1999 Ford F-150, which was in the median of southbound Interstate 55 in Panola County. Schlender was traveling from his Nebraska home to Florida to pick up his grandson from college.

Carswell, of Hernando, was found lying in the road near her 1997 Pontiac Grand Am on the shoulder of Mississippi 713 near Interstate 69 in Tunica County. Carswell, who worked at Fitzgerald’s Casino, was on her way home from work. She had been shot once in the head.

Willie will be tried in Tunica County in Carswell’s death, but no trial date has been set.

Authorities have not revealed why the victims pulled over on desolate stretches of Mississippi roadways. They have said they believe the motive was robbery.

Willie was arrested on May 18, 2012 for the roadside slayings.

He was held in a Tunica County jail on a $1.5 million bond following his arrest, but was later found guilty of parole violation and sentenced to five years on a residential burglary charge in Panola County.

___

Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com