Suspect in shooting at school out of jail

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 4, 2004

[2/4/04]The 20-year-old facing a manslaughter trial in the September shooting death near Vicksburg High was released from jail Tuesday for the first time since his arrest.

Walter Jefferson, 202 Cain Ridge Road, was freed following a bond hearing in Warren County Circuit Court.

He was indicted by last week’s Warren County grand jury for manslaughter in the Sept. 10 shooting death of O’Dare Lee Earl Mims, who was 20.

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A tentative trial date of March 22 has been set, said District Attorney Gil Martin, who argued against Jefferson’s release.

“We tried to hold him without bond,” District Attorney Gil Martin said.

After the hearing, Circuit Judge Frank Vollor set Jefferson’s bond at $50,000, which was posted almost immediately.

“Something’s not right about the system,” said Catina Stamps, a sister of Mims’ who attended the hearing. “That’s a bond you give somebody when they rob a store.”

Under state and federal law, people are innocent until proved guilty and bond must be set in most cases unless a person is deemed dangerous.

Martin said that based on the crime, he believed Jefferson “was dangerous and could be dangerous.”

Jefferson had been held without bond since his arrest, less than a half-hour after the shooting.

The manslaughter charge Jefferson faces carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. He is also charged with possessing a weapon on school property, which could add three years of prison time to any sentence he receives.

Jefferson was enrolled as a junior at VHS at the time of the shooting near the stadium. Mims was a former student at the City Park school.

The initial charge was capital murder, meaning life without parole or a possible death sentence. Grand jurors opted for the manslaughter charge.