Worker pleads to assault of elderly

Published 10:12 pm Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A former Brookhaven nursing home volunteer who turned himself in to authorities after he was accused of fondling a resident pleaded guilty to simple assault Tuesday in Lincoln County Circuit Court.

James Henry Cason, 63, 900 South Jackson St., entered Circuit Judge Michael Taylor’s courtroom dressed in jailhouse orange and adorned with wrist and ankle chains. Cason was arrested in January and charged with fondling of a vulnerable person.

The state maintained that in October 2016, Cason had threatened harm to a resident of a nursing home where he volunteered, grabbing her by the buttocks, in the presence of several other persons who were willing to give testimony to the same.

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Court records show the incident occurred at Havenhall Nursing Center on or about Oct. 17.

Cason’s situation before Taylor was a bit unusual in that the accused had signed a waiver of indictment so he wouldn’t appear before a grand jury. “You don’t have to plead guilty or not guilty because of the waiver of indictment,” Taylor said. “Are you wanting to plead guilty because reviewing the evidence causes you to believe it is in your best interest to do so?”

The hard-of-hearing Cason glanced at his lawyer, and replied, “Possibly, yes.”

Making certain that Cason could hear him, and that his attorney was repeating things as necessary to his client, Taylor said that Cason was being charged with simple assault on a vulnerable adult, and faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $1,000. “How do you wish to plead?”

Cason leaned toward the microphone and said, “I would plead guilty to that, sir.” Cason said he wanted to plead guilty to simple assault rather than touching or handling of a vulnerable adult to avoid serving 15 years in prison day-for-day and having to register as a sex offender.

Taylor accepted Cason’s guilty plea and the state’s recommendation of a sentence of four years in a state penitentiary, plus payment of court costs and $1,000 fine to be paid to the Crime Victims Compensation Fund.

Also in Taylor’s courtroom:

Brayron Queen pleaded guilty of failure to support a minor child. Taylor approved the state’s recommendation of five years jail time suspended for non-reporting probation for a period of five years, although the judge said the non-reporting part was “a bit unusual.” Queen’s guilty plea was accepted, and he was ordered to pay a fine of $100 plus court costs and restitution of $13,824 to the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

Attorney Laura Stevenson was unable to appear in court for health reasons, so Derrick Leon Young was given a continuance to the next term. “I appreciate you showing up,” Taylor said. Young was charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.

Attorney Lesa Baker requested a continuance for Joshua Witherspoon because Witherspoon made a request Tuesday for phone records he believes to be relevant to his case of narcotics possession to be subpoenaed. Trial is scheduled for Tuesday, April 4. “It is continued from court today,” said Taylor. “That’s long enough.”

Benjamin “Ben” Williams stood before the judge with his attorney Joe Fernald. Charged with burglary of a building, two counts of conspiracy to commit burglary and shooting into a dwelling, Williams pleaded guilty to burglary and one count of conspiracy. Taylor accepted the state’s recommendation that other charges not be prosecuted, and accepted Williams’ plea on the condition that he appear for sentencing on Monday at 3:30 p.m.

James Henry Cason