Grand jury to hear three slaying cases

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 28, 2002

[10/27/02]Three homicides and two criminal cases against former Vicksburg Police officers are to be presented to the Warren County grand jury that convenes Monday.

The homicide cases involve:

A husband, Roland Derell Welch, 25, is accused of stabbing his wife, Lila Eliana Welch, 23, at their 2911 Arcadia St. home in May.

Two brothers, Tyrone Jenkins, 28, and Kevin Jenkins, 32, both of 94 Williams St. in Kings, are accused in a fatal shooting of Dean Johnson, 21, no address available, in that north Vicksburg neighborhood in June.

And a Greenville man, Ronnie Coleman, 20, 506 Broadway, is accused of assaulting in July a retired Vicksburg welder who died in a hospital a month later, Thomas Engram, 57, no address available.

In the police cases, One former officer, Malcolm Lilly, 30, 104 Washington St., Crystal Springs, was accused in May of not returning police property issued to him while he was an officer.

Lilly said he tried multiple times to return the property but the proper people were not on duty to accept it.

The other, Dan King, 39, was accused in July of having a four-wheeler he knew was stolen. A 13-year department veteran, King was fired by the city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen July 15.

King denied knowing that the four-wheeler was stolen.

The grand jury, the last of the county’s four scheduled for this year, is to be presided over by Warren County Circuit Court Judge Isidore Patrick. About 81 criminal cases are scheduled to be presented, District Attorney Gil Martin said.

The grand jury will probably finish its work on Thursday, he added.

The grand jury is to convene eight days before the Nov. 5 general election that is to include a race among five Vicksburg attorneys for the judge of Warren County Court and Youth Court. All five candidates for that office Robert C. Arledge, 45; William Bost Jr., 57; incumbent Gerald Hosemann, 50; Warren County prosecutor Johnny Price, 56; and Clarence A. Whitaker, 59 are expected to exercise their statutory rights to make brief campaign speeches to the group of potential grand jurors summoned to the courthouse, Patrick said. About 150 potential grand jurors are expected to be called, a spokesman for the Circuit Clerk’s Office said.

Grand juries are composed of 18 to about 21 citizens and meet in private to consider whether there is enough evidence for criminal cases to proceed to trials.

They hear only the prosecution’s side of the case, generally considering cases believed by the District Attorney to be felony crimes.

They may indict defendants as charged, indict for a lesser or greater crime or not indict.

Besides reviewing criminal cases, grand juries are also responsible for reviewing crime and law enforcement generally, inspecting books and records of public officials and the conditions of public buildings. They may ask any public official to appear before them about any topic of public interest.

Of the cases to be presented, 24 involve the sale or possession of illicit drugs, including 12 for sale of cocaine, many of which Martin said were captured on videotape.

“That’s making those cases better,” he said.

Among the cases the grand jury is also expected to hear are seven robberies, including some armed robberies, and six aggravated assaults.

“That’s a lot more robberies and aggravated assaults than we’ve been seeing,” Martin said.

In Warren County, felony criminal cases generally take six months to a year to reach a grand jury after the crime is committed, Martin said.

About 70 percent of the cases are to be presented by Vicksburg Police detectives, and 20 percent of those from the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, Martin said. Of the remainder, the bad check unit of the District Attorney’s Office’s is to present five cases; the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, two; the Mississippi Department of Transportation, one; and a shoplifting victim, one.

One homicide case is not scheduled to be presented this week.

It involves a Dec. 30 stabbing of two people in Marcus Bottom.

That case awaits a mental examination of the defendant, Martin said.