Attorneys seek to have trials moved out of Warren County

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 26, 2000

The trials of two men accused of sexually assaulting and beating a woman and attacking another man on Sky Farm Avenue will be moved from Warren County if a motion by their attorneys is granted.

Attorneys for Romika Perkins, 24, and Derrick Warren, 18, asked Circuit Court Judge Frank Vollor Wednesday morning for changes of venue.

Jackson attorney Chris Klotz, who represents Perkins, said the case has generated too much publicity for an impartial jury to be chosen in Warren County.

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Vollor has until Nov. 27, when Perkins’ trial is set to begin, to rule. Warren, who is represented by Vicksburg attorney Andy Sumrall, has a Dec. 4 trial date.

“This case has been in the newspaper many times and it is an incident that has raised a lot of passion in the community,” Klotz said. “A jury will be tainted in some fashion by what they have heard.”

Perkins’ mother, Mary Perkins, took the stand to express her belief that her son could not get a fair trial in Warren County.

“People have said to me, They ought to be killed,'” she said. “They have said, How can you love your son when he did this?'”

Assistant District Attorney John Bullard agreed there had been news coverage of the case, but nothing overwhelming.

“There have been seven articles that have appeared in the paper over 15 months and it has been very responsible reporting,” Bullard said. “There have been no assertions of guilt or any evidence released in any of the articles.”

Perkins and Warren are accused of attacking 36-year-old Lorie G. Stevens and Vicksburg businessman Glenn Triplett. Stevens and her four children were shopping for a new residence on July 18, 1999, and were at a home on Sky Farm Avenue, which is owned by Triplett, when the attack occurred.

In support of his argument, Bullard called Police Chief Mitchell Dent, Vicksburg Post managing editor Charlie Mitchell and Warren County Prosecuting Attorney Johnny Price. All three testified they felt an objective jury could be found in Warren County.

“No facts or evidence of this case have been released to the press,” Dent said.

Bullard added that several published stories focused on civil suits brought by Stevens and her family.

One suit, brought against the City of Vicksburg, alleges slanderous sexually explicit comments made by former Vicksburg Police Officer Carl Houston. Stevens is asking for $75,000 in damages.

The second suit filed in January by Stevens and her former husband, Joe Stevens, is asking for unspecified damages from Triplett. The suit claims that he should have secured the premises before Stevens and her children arrived.