Felony charge reduced in Ronnie Lampkin case|[02/02/08]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 2, 2008

Lampkin Construction Company owner Ronnie Lampkin is a free man after grand jurors no-billed one of his charges and reduced the other to a misdemeanor Friday.

Lampkin no longer faces felony charges of kidnapping and aggravated assault, both of which were filed — one in late October and the other in early November — by his estranged wife, Polly. Following the grand jury’s decision to charge him with misdemeanor simple assault, Lampkin was released from the Warren County Jail.

“The Ronnie Lampkin nightmare is over,” he shouted while leaving the jail, but refused to comment further. Lampkin, 53, had been in jail 54 days, dating to another domestic matter Dec. 10 in downtown Jackson.

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The panel made the decision after hearing testimony from both Lampkins, a grand jury procedure which District Attorney Ricky Smith said is rare.

“It’s not often the defendant is allowed that privilege,” Smith said. “But we felt it would benefit the grand jury due to the complexity of this case.”

Following the jury’s conclusion, Polly Lampkin’s brother, Patrick Vinzant, expressed discontent.

“I just can’t believe it,” he said. “The pictures show this was not a misdemeanor offense. He basically went before the jury and did a lot of lying. My feeling is he needs to still be locked up.”

Regardless of the reduction in charges, Warren County Circuit Judge Frank Vollor will keep jurisdictoin in the case, Assistant District Attorney Dewey Arthur said.

After a 3 1/2-hour hearing Jan. 18, Vollor ordered Lampkin to wait behind bars pending the grand jury’s examination of his charges. Vollor’s order stemmed from the belief that Lampkin would present a threat to his wife and her family if released from jail.

At that hearing, Polly Lampkin testified that Ronnie Lampkin continually threatened her life while he beat and strangled her in October, even noting that he laughed during the incident when one of his hands got tired and he began hitting her with his other hand.

Lampkin said during his testimony that he was acting in self-defense, that Polly Lampkin had attacked him first, kicking and hitting him in the chest area where he had scars from a bypass surgery.

The couple agreed the encounter took place after Polly Lampkin had returned from a Las Vegas trip that day and had withdrawn $680,000 out of a joint account before taking the vacation.

The Lampkins, married five years, then went to Chattanooga, Tenn. Polly Lampkin said she was taken against her will, while Ronnie Lampkin said the opposite. She left the hotel and caught a flight back to Jackson. On Oct. 30, Polly Lampkin filed an affidavit against her husband alleging aggravated assault, for which he posted a $5,000 bond, and one week later she filed a kidnapping charge related to the Chattanooga trip. Lampkin posted a $25,000 bond for that charge.

Then, in December, Lampkin was arrested in Jackson. Polly Lampkin said she had exited off Interstate 55 onto Pearl Street when she noticed a Cadillac Escalade, similar to that of her husband’s, had turned around and started following her. Ronnie Lampkin then reportedly caught up with her and pointed a “silver handgun” in her direction. The police report said Polly Lampkin then turned onto Jefferson Street in an attempt to lose her husband, but he caught up with her again at State and South streets, forcing her off the road and damaging several cars in the process.

Jesse Robinson, Precinct 2 commander with the Jackson Police Department, said no one was injured, but noted that a silver Charter Arms .38 caliber revolver was recovered from Lampkin’s SUV. After being jailed in Jackson, Lampkin was transferred to Vicksburg, where the first charges were filed.

Lampkin said Friday the Jackson charge, too, was reduced from felony to misdemeanor, but no verification of that information was available from Jackson authorities Friday night.

Aside from Lampkin, grand jurors returned no bills on 11 other charges:

* Taiwana Jones, no address available, forgery.

* Arthur Andrews, no address available, joy riding.

* Kevin Dorris, no address available, possession of a controlled substance.

* Shonda Anderson, no address available, arson.

* Kimberly Anderson, no address available, arson.

* Roderick Davis, no address available, possession of a stolen firearm.

* Latasha Bright, no address available, credit card fraud.

* Lionell K. Martin, no address available, sexual battery.

* Walter Hardy, no address available, aggravated assault.

* Robert Head, no address available, aggravated assault.

* Jeff Harrell, no address available. aggravated assault.

In addition, Jonathan Hernandez, no address available, burglary of a dwelling; Jeannie Wooten, no address available, possession of a controlled substance; and Jarron Johnson, no address available, possession of a weapon on school property, all had their charges reduced to misdemeanors.