Musgrove frees Vicksburg killer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 14, 2004

[1/14/04]A Vicksburg man who pleaded guilty to murder in the New Year’s 1992 stabbing death of his ex-girlfriend was one of 10 inmates receiving suspended sentences Tuesday from Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.

Following precedent, Musgrove signed orders granting the indefinite suspension of sentences in the last hours of his administration and just before Haley R. Barbour took the oath of office to become Mississippi’s 63rd governor.

Musgrove also signed commutations for five other inmates, restored the voting rights of seven people and granted a pardon for one person.

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Clarence Jones, who was 24 and gave his address as 1328 Bay St. after the 1992 homicide, surrendered at the Vicksburg Police Department within hours after police were called to 534 Embassy Apartments to investigate the death of Carla Smith, 22.

Police said Smith and Jones had lived together and had a child together. However, they had broken up some time before her death.

Smith had returned to the apartment complex on Grove Street with another friend, identified as Kevin Wynn. When they entered the apartment, Jones is supposed to have been waiting. He came from a back room and held a butcher knife at Smith’s throat and ordered Wynn to leave, according to reports. Wynn went to a nearby house and called police.

When officers arrived, they found Smith dead and Jones missing.

The case was presented to the February 1992 term of the Warren County grand jury.

Jones was to go on trial in July 1992, said District Attorney Gil Martin. Jones entered the guilty plea as his trial was to begin. It resulted in the life sentence.

Martin said Jones was denied parole most recently in October 2003. He said members of the victim’s family wrote a letter objecting to his release.

“His parole was denied and his case was set back to August 2005,” Martin said, meaning he was eligible for a review in 20 months.

He said Musgrove’s order has upset the family of Carla Smith and him, and they had received no advance notice.

Jones had been a trusty working in the Governor’s Mansion during Musgrove’s tenure.

Presidents and governors receive hundreds of requests to use their executive powers to alter sentences or pardon crimes. Former Gov. Kirk Fordice granted eight requests. Otherwise, Musgrove’s orders were fewer than his predecesssors’.

Others receiving indefinite suspension of life sentences were Mickey Jerome Walton, MacArthur Hill, James E. Magee, Kendrick Norris, Michael Mullins, Freddy Sparks, Douglas M. McCord Jr., Larry Harper and James Albert King.

Those receiving commuted sentences and restoration of rights were Boots Carter Blanks, Betty C. Lambert, Joshua M. Arians, Lawrence McLaurin and Karl Wonsley.

Those receiving restoration of rights were Brent Michael Adkison, Maxine B. Coleman, Donald Isaacks, Jerry Lee McLeod, Austin T. Monroe, John Monoghan and Richard Steckler.

Musgrove pardoned Alex Thomas Bridge.