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Court ready for trial, but defendant missing

At least defendants who plead guilty just before their trialshown up for court anyway.

That wasn’t the case Tuesday as lawyers, court officials andprospective jurors gathered for a scheduled aggravated assaulttrial. However, defendant Charles May, 33, of 339 Walnut St.,Brookhaven, was a no-show.

“We had the jurors here, but no defendant,” said Lincoln CountyCircuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkins.

Judge Keith Starrett called May’s bond and issued a warrant forhis arrest. Once located, May will stand trial at a later date.

Watkins said the 35 prospective jurors who showed up willreceive $25 plus 25 cents per mile. Prospective jurors who liveinside the city limits do not receive mileage reimbursement, shesaid.

Tuesday’s no-show was a variation on a recent theme bydefendants facing trial. In a number of cases over the last fewmonths, defendants have shown up for trial and then opted to pleadguilty just before or after the jury was selected.

“We’ve had that happen a lot lately,” Watkins said.

According to the court record, May is accused of striking RoseMcKay Thompson, of Silver Creek, with his fists and a car mirrorduring a Sept. 23, 2003, incident. The indictment provided no otherdetails about the case.

In other court matters Tuesday, two defendants pleaded guiltyand were sentenced.

Samuel Downing, 33, of Pearl, pleaded guilty to possession ofstolen property. He was sentenced to five years and ordered toserve the first 196 days, which is the amount of time he has beenin jail, and to obtain alcohol and drug treatment.

Marvin Washington, 43, of 1043 Whitehurst Road, Hazlehurst,pleaded guilty to two counts of unauthorized use of a creditcard.

Starrett withheld acceptance of the plea under a special statelaw which allows for non-adjudication provided certain conditionsare met. Starrett ordered Washington to pay $600 restitution, toremain on probation for 18 months and to not have any contact withthe victim or her daughter.

“If you do what you’re supposed to do, it will be like it neverhappened,” Starrett told Washington.