Trial stalled for driver suspected in attack on deputy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 1, 2004

[12/1/04]The trial of a man accused of driving the car that hit a Warren County deputy sheriff in February has been delayed until next year, but one of his attorneys will fight disbarment before the Supreme Court next week.

Ronald Vaughn, 23, is charged with aggravated driving under the influence after Deputy Mike Hollingsworth was struck and severely injured on Feb. 9. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

Hollingsworth, 38, spent two weeks in a coma and six weeks in Jackson hospitals after being struck by a Buick sedan while directing funeral traffic into a cemetery entrance on U.S. 80. Witnesses saw him standing outside his vehicle at the entrance to Green Acres Memorial Park, then knocked into the air by a Buick sedan that careened around the procession.

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Hollingsworth returned home March 26 and to limited duty at the Sheriff’s Department in September.

The trial was set to begin Monday in Warren County Circuit Court, but was delayed until March after a motion to appoint an expert witness for the defense was granted, said Warren County Assistant District Attorney Mike Bonner.

In the meantime, Vaughn’s attorney, Chokwe Lumumba of Jackson, will appear before the Mississippi Supreme Court Tuesday for oral arguments in the case for disbarment.

Lumumba, known to be outspoken, once defended the late rapper Tupac Shakur. He also defended Elliot Culp who was found guilty in 2001 in Holmes County of the kidnapping, armed robbery and assault of Texas runaways and the rape of one.

It was during the 2001 defense of Henry Payton, who was charged with kidnapping, bank robbery and arson in May 1996, that Lumumba got into a heated argument with Leake County Circuit Court Judge Marcus Gordon, which landed him in jail.

According to Mississippi Supreme Court records, Lumumba told Gordon how he could, “get along better with other lawyers in the future,” and that, “I’ve paid other judges to try to get justice, pay you, too, if that’s what is necessary.”

Gordon held Lumumba in contempt of court, fined him $100 and sentenced him to three days in jail. The Mississippi Bar Association also filed a motion before the Supreme Court to disbar Lumumba for violating the Code of Professional Ethics.

Bonner said that no matter the outcome of that case, it should have little or no effect on the charges against Vaughn since an associate in Lumumba’s firm, Ali M. ShamsidDeen, has also been involved in the defense.

Vaughn has remained in the Warren County Jail since his arrest after bond was denied because of probation violation charges.

Warren County Circuit Court Judge Isadore Patrick has also taken under advisement a defense motion to move the case outside Warren County. That decision is not expected to be made until jury selection begins.