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2nd man sentenced in Sky Farm attack

DERRICK WARREN, center, is escorted to the Warren County Courthouse by Chief of Operations Otho Jones, left, and Sheriff Martin Pace. (The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[05/03/01] A second man was sentenced Wednesday for his role in assaults on two people at a Sky Farm Avenue home in July 1999.

“I hope you come out of prison a better person,” Circuit Judge Frank Vollor told Derrick Warren as he was handed a 115-year prison term. Warren will be forced to serve 35 years. “You put the Stevens family in a prison that they will never get out of.”

Warren, now 19, and Romika Perkins, now 26, were arrested July 19, 1999, and charged with the attacks the day before on Lorie Stevens, now 36, and real estate owner Glenn Triplett.

Perkins was sentenced last month after a five-day trial in Columbus to life in prison plus 300 years for kidnapping, aggravated assault, armed robbery and rape.

Warren, whose trial had been scheduled for May 21 in Greenwood, pleaded guilty Wednesday to six counts of kidnapping, two counts of armed robbery, one count of sexual battery and one count of aggravated assault.

Vollor, who also presided over Perkins’ trial, sentenced Warren to 10 years for each charge of kidnapping, 10 years for each armed robbery charge and 30 years for sexual battery. The terms will be served simultaneously.

Warren, who made no comment after entering his plea, was also sentenced to five years for aggravated assault, which will be served after the 30-year sentence is completed.

Warren’s sentence brings to a close criminal parts of a case that began with Stevens, who now lives in Virginia, trying to find a bigger house for her family.

Stevens took her four children to a house at 2090 Sky Farm on July, 18, 1999, to meet Triplett, the owner.

At Perkins’ trial, both Stevens and Triplett recounted in horrifying detail what happened to them.

Warren and Perkins locked Stevens and her children in a utility closet in the house shortly after the family arrived.

Joseph Stevens, 16, who was 14 at the time of the attack, testified in Columbus that he and his family could hear the then-65-year-old Triplett, who arrived minutes after the Stevens family, being beaten with an aluminum baseball bat.

After being removed from the closet, Lorie Stevens, fearing for her children’s lives, was taken to an upstairs bedroom and raped by Perkins. Minutes later, she was forced to perform oral sex on Warren, which Joseph Stevens witnessed.

“We will never be the same, but with the grace of God we will learn to cope with it and go on,” Lorie Stevens said in a written statement Wednesday. “I am just glad this part of the tragedy is over, but the scars will remain forever.”

During his trial, Perkins testified that Warren and a man named “Reggie” were at the house with him that day and they must have been the ones to rob and assault Lorie Stevens and Triplett.

Reggie’s existence was never confirmed by police, and Perkins’ testimony contradicted his confession on the day of his arrest.

Jackson attorney Andy Sumrall, who represented Warren, said with the evidence against his client, the guilty pleas were the best solution. “He made a grievous mistake and hopefully his time in prison will help him,” Sumrall said.

In a written statement, Triplett said he hoped Warren would realize the destructive impact his actions had. “I hope that someday he will try to turn his life around and put it to good use.”

District Attorney Gil Martin said he felt confident of a victory if Warren’s case had gone to trial. “His acceptance to the amount of years we offered was part of what brought this about.”

He said Stevens and her family, along with Triplett, would have testified at Warren’s trial.

“We are glad to bring the whole thing to a resolution,” he said.

Lorie Stevens said she hopes Warren and Perkins will realize the pain they have caused her family.

“I want to thank Gil Martin, John Bullard, Georgia Lynn and the detectives for all their hard work,” she said.

Although Warren’s sentencing closes the criminal aspect of the case, a civil suit filed by Stevens asking for unspecified damages from Triplett is still pending in Warren County Circuit Court. The suit claims that Triplett should have secured the premises before the family arrived. The case was set to go to trial Jan. 16 but was delayed. A new date has not been set.

A second civil suit stemming from the case was settled in February when, without admitting liability, the City of Vicksburg paid Stevens $10,000. Stevens had filed a lawsuit based on graphic racial and sexual remarks alleged to have been made by a police sergeant not assigned to the case. The officer, Sgt. Carl Houston, who left the department months later, was not disciplined in any way made public and has said no such statements were ever made. Last fall, his name was added to a list of people eligible for rehiring, but he has not been rehired.