During the past two years, I have had the honor and the privilege to serve as your District Attorney. You hired me to do a job and I want to report on the progress that your District Attorney’s office is making. We understand that we work for you and that results matter.
Working with some of the best law enforcement officials in the country, we have together, been able to accomplish a great deal. Our partnership with law enforcement has resulted in a record number of cases being resolved and strong sentences being handed down. We must continue to see that strong sentences are imposed on those who break our laws. These sentences serve not only to punish criminals for the crime they have committed, but to also send a message that will keep criminals from crossing into our neighborhoods. The sentences we impose are critical to the safety of Madison and Rankin Counties, now and in the future.
To that end, I am proud to announce that the Administrative Office of the Court has recognized our judicial district for closing the third highest number of cases throughout Mississippi. We have worked hard to alleviate the backlog of pending cases and to pursue new cases with appropriate speed. This accomplishment is due to the hard work and cooperation of the District Attorney’s office, law enforcement and our circuit judges.
We have accomplished a great deal in 2008 and 2009. With that in mind, I believe it is important to provide you with a summary of our first two years in office.
CASES CLOSED SINCE JANUARY 2008
Madison County: 2,102
Rankin County: 2,875
MAJOR CASES CLOSED SINCE JANUARY
John Willie Bell, Jr., house burglary, 25 years to serve.
Kevin Eldridge, house burglary, 25 years to serve.
James Weatherspoon, rape, 25 years to serve.
Charles Kern, sale of cocaine, 25 years to serve.
Gregory Plummer, statutory rape, 25 years to serve.
Ricky Moore, armed carjacking, 27 years to serve.
Robert Hillard, sale of cocaine, 30 years to serve.
Tommy McCrory, sexual battery, 30 years to serve.
Edward Myers, armed robbery, 30 years to serve.
Peter Grossley, armed robbery, 30 years to serve.
James David Medlock, DUI Death, 30 years to serve.
Paul Jones, statutory rape, 30 years to serve.
Michael Maye, statutory rape, 30 years to serve.
Walter Tard, armed robbery, 35 years to serve.
Marcus Ollie, manslaughter and possession of a firearm, 35 years to serve.
Tonya Gann, DUI Mayhem, 40 years to serve.
David Trejo, possession of cocaine, 60 years to serve.
Kirby Shavers, kidnapping and rape, 65 years to serve.
Kirk Mayers, aggravated assault on law enforcement, 88 years to serve.
Jason Flores, murder, life in prison.
Tyrone Vaughan, murder, life in prison.
Anthony Perez, murder, life in prison.
Chandle Hobson, murder, life in prison.
Billy Ray Corken, murder, life in prison.
William Tackett, murder, two consecutive life sentences.
Jerry Whitlock, automobile burglary as a habitual offender, life without parole.
Jermaine Stephenson, capital murder, life without parole.
Carla Hughes, capital murder, life without parole.
For information on additional major cases closed, please visit http://www.daguest.com/ and visit the community news section.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI VS. CARLA HUGHES
November 29, 2009, marked the three-year anniversary of the death of Avis Banks. Ms. Banks was brutally attacked in her garage as she returned home from work. The case drew local and national attention because of the violent nature of the crime and because Ms. Banks was pregnant at the time of her death.
The District Attorney’s office worked diligently with the Ridgeland Police Department to bring Carla Hughes to trial in the death of Ms. Banks. Ms. Hughes was found guilty, by a jury of her peers, on October 13, 2009, of two counts of capital murder. She was sentenced to serve life in the penitentiary without the possibility of parole.
OPERATION RANKIN ICE
In June 2009, more than 40 people were arrested in Rankin County, dismantling the largest methamphetamine distribution organization in Mississippi. The criminals were arrested following an extensive eighteen-month investigation that included federal, state and local law enforcement, the United States Attorney’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office. This operation was successful because of the cooperation among all agencies involved and was a major victory in our continued war on illegal drugs.
USING CRIMINAL MONEY AND CARS TO MAKE OUR COMMUNITY SAFER
Our office continues to use money and property seized from those who sell or transport illegal drugs in Madison and Rankin Counties. The District Attorney’s Asset Forfeiture Unit works with law enforcement through the civil court system to forfeit the ill-gotten gains of criminals. By using both the civil and criminal court systems, we now have an added resource in our battle to keep drugs out of our community by providing law enforcement with additional tools and resources. I am proud to announce that since I have been in office, we have forfeited 75 vehicles and over $4,000,000.00 back to our local law enforcement agencies.
THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S MOST WANTED
An area that we have enjoyed much success is catching those who have broken our laws, but attempted to escape the penalties of their crimes. Working with the media, we launched the District Attorney’s Most Wanted and have highlighted criminals who have sought to avoid prosecution by failing to return to Court. We have been successful in capturing dozens of criminals who were supposed to be in jail, but were instead hiding among law-abiding citizens. For more information about this program, please visit http://www.daguest.com/.
THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S BAD CHECK UNIT
Writing a bad check is stealing, and our Bad Check Unit continues to work to protect our local merchants. Our Bad Check Unit began years ago to help merchants retrieve funds from those who had written them bad checks. Since I became your District Attorney, we have successfully recovered more than $1,350,000.00 in bad checks and fees. For more information on our Bad Check Unit, please visit http://www.daguest.com/.
JURY SERVICE – MAKE A DIFFERENCE
For those of you who have served on a jury, thank you for your time and efforts. Jury Service is one of the highest duties of citizenship and it is an essential component for enforcing our laws. This service is an opportunity to participate in good government and to learn more about how our justice system works.
I encourage you to make every effort to participate in jury duty if called. Our criminal justice system will remain strong and successful if you answer that call. Your time and commitment to our community will show that Madison and Rankin Counties are places where justice prevails.
Thank you again for allowing me to serve as your District Attorney. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can ever be of any assistance to you. I wish you and your family a happy and healthy 2010.