Convicted killer Ross denied request to yank guilty plea

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 29, 2003

[8/29/03]A Vicksburg man serving life for killing his estranged wife has failed in an attempt to withdraw his guilty plea.

The motion was among court records made public Thursday, another of which showed that a local woman imprisoned a year ago on an arson conviction has been denied a request for the state to appoint an attorney for her.

The homicide prisoner, William “Birt” Ross, 30, pleaded guilty two years ago to killing his wife, Virginia “Angel” Massey Ross. He filed a handwritten motion Aug. 15 in Warren County Circuit Court to withdraw his plea.

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In the motion, Ross claims his guilty plea was not made voluntarily with understanding of the consequences, use of evidence obtained in an unlawful arrest and use of a coerced confession, and that he was misled by his appointed attorney, Eugene Perrier of Vicksburg.

“I deny those allegations,” Perrier said, adding that he did not know Ross had filed the motion.

“The issues set forth by the defendant have no merit,” Judge Frank Vollor wrote in denying Ross’ motion, on the same day it was filed.

Ross pleaded guilty on May 2, 2001, just over a week before the case was to be presented to a grand jury which could have considered returning an indictment for capital murder which might have led to a death sentence.

Ross was accused of kidnapping his wife, strangling her and burying her body near the banks of the Big Black River near Bovina Cut-Off Road in January 2001. He was arrested Feb. 2, 2001, an hour after his wife’s body was found. She had been missing for eight days.

Angel Ross, a 25-year-old former Vicksburg High School student and mother of three, was reported missing by her parents after she did not return from a night class at Hinds.

Vollor sentenced Ross to life, the only sentence available for those convicted of murder in Mississippi.

The arson prisoner, Brigitte Lynchard, 33, filed a motion requesting appointment of an attorney because she could not afford one. The motion does not specify for what purpose Lynchard is requesting the appointment.

It was dismissed by Judge Isadore Patrick on Aug. 21.

Lynchard is serving 10 years in prison, including five on a Warren County conviction. She was accused of setting three fires in four hours outside 203 Fairways Drive the morning of Jan. 21, 2002. The fires were reportedly set, from 5:09 a.m. and ending at 9:19 a.m., to a Buick Regal, a Chevrolet Suburban and an unattached garage.

A Warren County deputy sheriff arrested Lynchard after seeing her set the third fire, Sheriff Martin Pace said at the time.

The other five years of Lynchard’s prison sentence are on Washington County felony charges including arson, on which she was free on bond when she set the fires here.