Marshall County drive-by suspects may get special grand jury

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

HOLLY SPRINGS – Under high security triggered by a tip gleaned from social media, two of three suspects in a Christmas Day drive-by killing appeared in court Friday in Marshall County Justice Court.
Cory Albright, 33, waived his preliminary hearing, in which Judge Earnest Cunningham would otherwise have examined evidence to determine whether the case was worthy of being presented to a grand jury.
The case involves the shooting death of 16-year-old Derica Patterson and the gunshot woundings of several others in the same car, which was shot more than a dozen times from another car as both vehicles
Christopher Collins, 16, submitted a similar waiver in absentia.
Rico Fleming, 22, was arrested by U.S. marshals in St. Louis, Mo., more than two weeks after the killing. Because Fleming appeared before Circuit Judge John Gregory on Jan. 23, Cunningham ruled that Fleming is no longer under Justice Court jurisdiction.
Kelly McMillen, chief investigator for the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, said officials hope for a special grand jury as soon as March to determine whether the evidence against each suspect warrants a trial. The next regular grand jury is scheduled for July.
At least 11 armed officers were in the courtroom for Friday’s proceedings.
“We received information from a Facebook entry that there might be trouble,” McMillen said.
Carol Dye, the mother of Derica Patterson, said Derica, her only daughter among seven sons, was a churchgoing girl who ran track and made good grades. Dye said she looks forward to seeing the three suspects go to trial.
“I guess it will always hurt, but we need some closure,” she said.
errol.castens@journalinc.com