n JACKSON – The state Court of Appeals has upheld the life without parole sentence given Willie Prater in 2006 for his role in the beating death of a Starkville woman.
Prater was one of five people charged in the 2001 beating death of Juanita Miller. Prater was convicted in Oktibbeha County of capital murder.
Prosecutors say Miller was found severely beaten inside her home by Starkville firefighters responding to a fire report. Her husband was not home at the time. She later died at a Columbus hospital.
Prosecutors say a fire was started to cover up the slaying and robbery.
On appeal, Prater argued that lawmen coerced him into confessing to the crime. The Appeals Court said Tuesday that the court record showed Prater freely waived his rights and confessed.
City wins fight over
illegal junk yard
n JACKSON – The state Court of Appeals has agreed with the city of Brandon that John Whitley’s farm land east of Mississippi Highway 471 was an illegal “junk yard.”
The Appeals Court on Tuesday upheld a Rankin County judge’s decision in 2007 that the city could make Whitley to remove more than 100 vehicles.
Whitley had claimed he was within his rights to keep as many cars as he wanted on his 90 acres in Brandon, no matter the condition of the vehicles.
Ultimately, a city-hired armada of towing companies towed away the vehicles, appliances, tools and other equipment.
The Appeals Court says the city’s ordinance was clear that Whitley could not keep the vehicles and other equipment on his land.
Jackson police officer,
school guard arrested
n JACKSON – Authorities say a Jackson police officer and a Jackson Public Schools security guard have been arrested for extortion.
The Jackson Police Department said Tuesday that 28-year-old Jackson police officer Deshawn Howard and 42-year-old security guard Cedric Body each faced one count of extortion.
The police department said Tuesday in a statement that the men allegedly extorted money from convenience store owners of Indian decent.
Neighbor: Melton leaves home in an ambulance
n JACKSON – A neighbor of embattled Jackson Mayor Frank Melton says the mayor was taken from his home in an ambulance.
An Associated Press photographer saw the ambulance leave the home Tuesday night, the same day Melton had faced nine challengers in the Democratic primary. Neighbor A.D. Lewis says Melton was coherent when he was put into the ambulance.