Man pleads guilty in Christmas Day assault

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 25, 2003

With a jury waiting to be selected Friday, a Brookhaven manavoided trial by pleading guilty to assault and robbery chargesrelated to a Christmas morning incident at a local funeraldirector’s home.

Donald Blue Vance, 39, of 809 Dow St., awaits sentencing onSept. 8 after admitting to aggravated assault, simple assault androbbery during the altercation at the home of Robert and RubyTyler, operators of Tyler Funeral Home. He faces a maximum of 35.5years in prison and over $20,000 in fines.

Assistant District Attorney Diane Jones, who presented theprosecution’s version of events Friday, said Vance went to theTyler home sometime Christmas Eve night last year and asked formoney under the pretense of going to see his wife in Copiah County.Jones said Mr. Tyler gave the man $20.

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Later, around 4:45 a.m., Vance returned with a story about abroken down car and asked for more money. Jones said Mr. Tylerrefused, Vance began to beg on his knees and then wrapped his armsaround Tyler’s legs.

Mr. Tyler resisted and he and Vance wound up in the kitchen,where Vance grabbed two forks from the table.

“He inflicted a non-life-threatening wound” to Tyler’s chest,shoulders and arms, Jones said.

Jones said Mrs. Tyler, who was also present, fell during thealtercation and broke her elbow.

Vance fled. He was later arrested at his home after running fromofficers twice, Jones said.

A pre-sentencing investigation will be done on Jones todetermine his criminal background. Sentencing was scheduled forSept. 8 to allow the Tylers to be present and speak to thecourt.

Also Friday, an 18-year-old Jackson man got a first-hand look athow his possible future profession works.

Scott McWhorter, who told Judge Keith Starrett that he wants togo to college to become a lawyer, pleaded guilty to unlawfulpossession of more than 30 grams of marijuana. The charge waschanged after McWhorter was indicted for trying to smugglemarijuana into an area drug treatment facility.

McWhorter described his trip through prosecution as “a learningexperience.”

“It’s hasn’t been good, but I’ve learned a lot about the law,”McWhorter said.

Starrett offered some stern comments about the impact ofMcWhorter’s actions on drug treatment patients.

“I don’t expect someone to be destroying what I’m trying to doby helping these people get treatment,” Starrett said.

The judge withheld acceptance of McWhorter’s plea under aspecial state law.

The man will not have a criminal record provided he meetscertain guidelines of the non-adjudication status. Those conditionswere to pay a $1,000 fine, $100 restitution, be evaluated for drugand alcohol treatment and to perform 150 hours of community servicework.

Addressing the sentencing, Jones said the victim’s parentsrequested that McWhorter not be incarcerated. Starrett warned theman to not blow his “second chance.”

In other court action Friday, Willie D. Coleman, 37, of 859Howard Road, was ordered to serve six years of a 12-year sentenceafter pleading guilty to robbery. He was also to pay a $1,000 fine,$550 restitution, $1,000 to the Crime Victims Compensation Fund,and his sentence was to run concurrent with that in anothercrime.

Sunie D. Bridges, 18, of 670 Watts Lane, pleaded guilty toburglary.

Bridges was sentenced to three years in prison but given theopportunity to earn probation through the Regimented InmateDiscipline program and then enter Starrett’s Drug Court program.She was also ordered to pay a $500 fine and restitution and to gether GED.

William T. Ladnier, 25, of 460 Nalco Lane, was sentenced to oneyear in prison after his probation was revoked on a statutory rapecharge.

Ladnier had been sentenced to a private house arrest program,but court officials said he removed the program bracelet and alsowas involved in an automobile accident. Starrett ordered Ladnier toserve every day of the one-year sentence.

Other defendants who pleaded guilty Friday and their chargesinclude:

* Charles Honer, 43, of 1121 Aberdeen St. Jackson – burglary ofa dwelling and conspiracy.

* Brian Avants, 24, of 2465 Rolling Meadows Road – seven countsof burglary of a dwelling and five counts of simple burglary.

* Chance Herring, 19, of 339 Know Lane – five counts of burglaryof an automobile and conspiracy.

* Samson Fisher, 25, of 2916 Westland Dr., Wesson – unlawfulsale of marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana and felonybad checks.

* Debi F. Arnold, 48, of 1586 West Lincoln Dr. – three counts offraudulent use of identification.

Sentencing for guilty defendants was scheduled at later datesfollowing completion of pre-sentencing investigations.