Sky Farm rape suspects’ trials moved from Warren

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 19, 2000

The trials of two suspects accused of sexually assaulting a woman and beating a man who was showing her a house on Sky Farm Avenue have been moved hours away from Vicksburg.

Circuit Judge Frank Vollor set 24-year-old Romika Perkins’ trial for April 9 in Columbus. The trial of Derrick Warren, 18, was set for May 21 in Greenwood. Vollor had earlier granted the request for change of venue after hearing arguments from defense attorneys that the case had generated too much publicity for an impartial jury to be found in Warren County, but had left open the option of selecting jurors elsewhere and busing them to Warren County for the trials.

Instead, those involved as witnesses or attorneys in the case will travel to the other cities. Warren County will be responsible for expenses. Greenwood is about 80 miles from Vicksburg, and Columbus is about 200 miles away.

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Jackson attorney Chris Klotz, who represents Perkins, also asked Monday that his client be given a reasonable bond, so he could be released from jail.

“He has no official criminal record and other than this allegation there is no proof he is a danger to the community,” Klotz said.

After Vollor ruled that Perkins had to stay in jail pending his trial, Perkins spoke up, saying, “I have had to sit in court and listen to a million lies being told on me. When this is done and all this is over with, someone will have to answer for this.”

After Vollor asked Perkins to explain what he meant, Perkins replied, “I am not directing violence at you because I respect your position, sir.”

Perkins and Warren, both Vicksburg residents, are accused of attacking 36-year-old Lorie G. Stevens, who has since moved to Virginia, and Vicksburg businessman Glenn Triplett. Stevens and her four children were shopping for a new house on July 18, 1999, and were at a Sky Farm Avenue home owned by Triplett when the attack occurred. The children were locked in a closet while their mother was assaulted.

Two civil suits centered on the case are pending in Warren County Court.

One, against the City of Vicksburg, says former Vicksburg Police Sgt. Carl Houston made obscene and slanderous remarks about the victim to other officers that were reported by fellow officers to the victim’s family. That suit seeks $75,000 in damages with family members saying the reason is that Mayor Robert Walker and Alderman Gertrude Young, after being told what had happened, took no disciplinary action.

Houston, who resigned from the department in May and has been placed on the Civil Service Commission-approved list of people eligible for rehiring, has said no such comments about Stevens were made and that he knew nothing about her case since he was not assigned to it. The Mayor and Aldermen have said publicly that they want the lawsuit resolved quickly.

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 to view the house. That suit is set to go to trial Jan. 16.The trials of two suspects accused of sexually assaulting a woman and beating a man who was showing her a house on Sky Farm Avenue have been moved hours away from Vicksburg.

Circuit Judge Frank Vollor set 24-year-old Romika Perkins’ trial for April 9 in Columbus. The trial of Derrick Warren, 18, was set for May 21 in Greenwood. Vollor had earlier granted the request for change of venue after hearing arguments from defense attorneys that the case had generated too much publicity for an impartial jury to be found in Warren County, but had left open the option of selecting jurors elsewhere and busing them to Warren County for the trials.

Instead, those involved as witnesses or attorneys in the case will travel to the other cities. Warren County will be responsible for expenses. Greenwood is about 80 miles from Vicksburg, and Columbus is about 200 miles away.

Jackson attorney Chris Klotz, who represents Perkins, also asked Monday that his client be given a reasonable bond, so he could be released from jail.

“He has no official criminal record and other than this allegation there is no proof he is a danger to the community,” Klotz said.

After Vollor ruled that Perkins had to stay in jail pending his trial, Perkins spoke up, saying, “I have had to sit in court and listen to a million lies being told on me. When this is done and all this is over with, someone will have to answer for this.”

After Vollor asked Perkins to explain what he meant, Perkins replied, “I am not directing violence at you because I respect your position, sir.”

Perkins and Warren, both Vicksburg residents, are accused of attacking 36-year-old Lorie G. Stevens, who has since moved to Virginia, and Vicksburg businessman Glenn Triplett. Stevens and her four children were shopping for a new house on July 18, 1999, and were at a Sky Farm Avenue home owned by Triplett when the attack occurred. The children were locked in a closet while their mother was assaulted.

Two civil suits centered on the case are pending in Warren County Court.

One, against the City of Vicksburg, says former Vicksburg Police Sgt. Carl Houston made obscene and slanderous remarks about the victim to other officers that were reported by fellow officers to the victim’s family. That suit seeks $75,000 in damages with family members saying the reason is that Mayor Robert Walker and Alderman Gertrude Young, after being told what had happened, took no disciplinary action.

Houston, who resigned from the department in May and has been placed on the Civil Service Commission-approved list of people eligible for rehiring, has said no such comments about Stevens were made and that he knew nothing about her case since he was not assigned to it. The Mayor and Aldermen have said publicly that they want the lawsuit resolved quickly.

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 to view the house. That suit is set to go to trial Jan. 16.