By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
HOUSTON – The Mississippi Highway Patrol has filed formal paperwork and citations in Chickasaw County Justice Court to bring four charges against Okolona Assistant Police Chief Romona Robertson.
Circuit Court Judge Andrew Howorth cleared the way for charges of possession of a controlled substance, driving under the influence, speeding and failing to comply with a law enforcement officer to be registered following a probable cause hearing in Okolona on Feb. 4.
The charges were filed in District 1 Justice Court on Feb. 5, by Mississippi Highway Patrolman James Burrow. Burrow and Trooper Cindy Searcy stopped Robertson on Dec. 7, on Highway 32 just east of its intersection with Highway 15, prompting the case to be heard in the Houston Justice Court.
Judge Howorth said, due to the political nature of the case, Chickasaw County Justice Court Judges may recuse themselves from hearing the investigation, at which point he would appoint a Special Justice Court Judge to the case.
Dist. 1 Justice Court Judge Garry Turner said he would preside at the Feb. 21 initial appearance by Robertson.
“At that time a plea will be entered and all the attorney’s will be together,” said Turner. “I will make my decision known at that time.”
If Robertson enters a guilty plea or is convicted of all four counts, she could face fines of $1,090 and court costs of $809.50.
Defense attorney Ed Lancaster said at the Feb. 4 hearing he would seek a jury trial for Robertson.
Since the case involves charges being brought against law enforcement officers, it is being prosecuted by Chickasaw County District Attorney Ben Creekmore and Chickasaw County Prosecuting Attorney Elizabeth Fox Ausbern.
Two videos shot from Burrow’s dashboard camera were shown at the Feb. 4 probable cause hearing. Another video shot by Trooper Searcy at Trace Regional Hospital was also shown. Mention was made of a fourth video showing Robertson’s action and demeanor as she was being transported to the hospital by Searcy.
Burrow and Searcy said Robertson initially asked to take a blood test to prove she was not under the influence. Both officers said Robertson refused the test when they took her to the hospital.
Burrow said he clocked Robertson driving a white Okolona Police Department Challenger at 77 miles-an-hour in a 55 zone and watched her cross the centerline several times. Searcy said she found 18 pills, later determined to be hydrocodone in the driver’s door pocket of the patrol car.
Both Searcy and Burrow said they knew Robertson, she appeared to be under the influence and failed to follow their commands and directions during the traffic stop.
Robertson, the No. 2 police officer in Okolona, appeared at the probable cause hearing in uniform. A dispatcher at the Okolona Police Department said she was working Monday morning.