Trials rare in Lee’s August circuit court term

Lee County StockBy Patsy R. Brumfield
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Few trials are anticipated as the circuit court’s August term gets under way this week in Lee County.

On the docket are more than 430 cases ranging from accusations of armed robbery and sexual battery to possession of a wide variety of illegal drugs.

Pleas also will be taken on scores of indictments from a June grand jury.

District Attorney Trent Kelly spokesman Paul Howell said that while trials could occur virtually every day of the five-week term, they expect to prosecute only a few.

Some cases involve indictments alleging that defendants were responsible in deaths.

Among them:
• Melissa P. Hill, charged with DUI death when Eddie Cullom died in a Plantersville accident.

• James Robert Russell, charged with DUI death when his wife, Charlotte Russell, died in a Baldwyn accident.

• Andrew D. Owens, charged with depraved heart murder in the death of a child, Kamari Stoby, in 2011.

• Jason Pannell, charged with manslaughter in the vehicular death of Early Rogers.

• Wesley Brandon, charged with DUI death in the 2011 vehicular death of John E. Bell.

Trials are expected in at least two cases.

Christopher Mink will face charges of aggravated assault, kidnapping, mayhem and setting woods on fire. He and Cherie Clark are accused in the kidnapping of a woman. He is accused of trying to set the woman on fire near Baldwyn.
Mink and Clark are due for trial to begin Aug. 20.

Travon Brown’s trial is set for Aug. 26 after delay from the May term. Brown is accused of murder in two shooting deaths in Tupelo in September 2011.

All have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

Also on the docket are two cases charging DUI maiming in accidents involving motorcycles.

Two other defendants may see their state prosecutions wait on pending federal action.

Matthew Blake Whitt faces three counts of sexual battery in an indictment claiming he had sex with a minor while he was a substitute teacher. He is due for trial Sept. 9 on federal charges that he used his cell phone to entice a minor female for sex.

James Everett Dutschke stands accused on three counts of fondling minor females. Dutschke remains in federal custody after a nationally publicized case involving poison-laden letters to President Barack Obama and two other elected officials.

His federal trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 7.

Brandon’s prosecution on the DUI death charge also may wait after he was sentenced for a guilty plea in a federal heroin distribution case.

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  • barney fife

    Imagine taking all of the cases having to do with possession, sale & use of marijuana (only) off of the legal table.

    How much would be saved overall? Cops, investigators, prosecutors, grand juries and judges all having their workload reduced in that one area and able to focus elsewhere.

    Imagine those adults choosing to imbibe in an adult recreational intoxicant other than alcohol just leading normal lives without the fear & stigma of an apprehension attached.

    Reform the marijuana laws!