Several plead guilty; await sentencing

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Guilty pleas or trial dates were the focus Tuesday as LincolnCounty Circuit Court officials held omnibus hearings for a varietyof defendants.

Omnibus hearings are a procedural step in which defendantseither accept a plea agreement from the District Attorney’s Officeor signal that they are ready to proceed to trial in theirrespective cases.

Among court activity Tuesday, Joe Fernald was allowed towithdraw as attorney for Darius Thrasher, 19, of 530 Rogers St.Thrasher is charged with two counts of sexual battery, two countsof contributing to the delinquency of a minor and burglary of adwelling.

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Fernald, who is city attorney, cited a conflict in participatingin a case in which city police officials will be the primarywitnesses. Judge Keith Starrett assigned the case the publicdefender’s office and set an April 29 trial date.

“This is the oldest case on my docket and needs to be tried,”Starrett said.

The case is from 2002. Court officials said the case has beendelayed several times while awaiting evidence analysis from thestate crime lab.

Sentencing was scheduled for next week for several defendantswho pleaded guilty Tuesday.

* Alvin Sanders, 26, of Ole Brook Road, pleaded guilty tounlawful possession of marijuana with intent to distribute,unlawful possession of cocaine with intent to distribute andconspiracy charges. Sentencing is March 6.

* Steven Kyle Walley, 21, of 1538 Walley Lane, pleaded guilty toa burglary of an automobile charge. Sentencing is March 6.

* Twins Rashand Smith and Rashad Smith, 17, of 1539 Crump Lanepleaded guilty to grand larceny. Their sentencing date is March10.

* Jennifer Leigh Smith, 19, of North Haven Apartments, pleadedguilty to grand larceny. Her sentencing is also March 10.

* Wanda A. Chancellor, 42, of 133 Lynn Ave., Jackson, pleadedguilty to burglary of an automobile, grand larceny and conspiracy.Her sentencing is set for March 6.

* Samuel Albine, 21, of 620 Carmichael Street, Wesson, pleadedguilty to burglary of a dwelling and possession of a firearm by aconvicted felon. His sentencing is also March 6.

In the only felony sentencing of the day, Anthony Newsome, 34,of 710 North Church St., was ordered to serve three days of afour-year sentence after pleading guilty to a burglary charge.Newsome had already served the jail time before Tuesday’s courtappearance.

A group of supporters spoke on Newsome’s behalf during thesentencing hearing. They spoke of his efforts to overcome alcoholand other problems since his release from Parchman following anearlier charge.

“He is trying to become a productive citizen,” said KrisHutcherson, Newsome’s landlord and victim of his crime. “Prisontime will not help that.”

Starrett said he was impressed with Newsome’s support and saidit “speaks volumes” for him.

The judge also mentioned a “re-entry” program he would like tosee started. The program would have churches helping people whohave been released from Parchman readjust to life outsideprison.

“There is a need for churches to get involved in people’slives,” Starrett said.

In trial-related activity, a March 12 trial date was scheduledfor Jack Jay Fortenberry Jr., 20, of 204 High St., McComb. He ischarged with unlawful possession of anhydrous ammonia with intentto manufacture a controlled substance, theft of anhydrous ammoniaand conspiracy.

An April 29 trial date was scheduled for Dennis Banks, 44, of 45Dade Lane, who is facing a voyeurism charge.

Several other omnibus hearings were rescheduled for Monday orfor a later date in the court term.

Mondrae T. Smith, of 22, of 710 Williams St., was denied help inlowering a $30,000 bond on his armed robbery charge. Smith wantedto hire his own attorney but needed the bond reduced so he couldget out of jail and find one.

“I’m not going to reduce the bond, plain and simple,” Starretttold Smith. “That’s not a high bond for an armed robberycharge.”

Starrett asked Smith for a “compelling reason” to reduce thebond.

“I didn’t do it,” Smith replied.

Starrett denied the bond reduction and court proceeding forSmith was scheduled for Monday. The public defender’s office wasassigned to his case.