Lumpkin held without bond in killing of Vicksburg girl|[06/04/08]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 4, 2008

James Lumpkin, the man who authorities say has admitted killing 15-year-old Sharonda L. “Na-Na” Brown, will stay behind bars pending the examination of his capital murder case by a Warren County Grand Jury.

At his initial court appearance Tuesday morning, the 46-year-old defendant was denied bond by Warren County Judge Johnny Price. District Attorney Ricky Smith had requested that Lumpkin be held without bond, citing Lumpkin’s reported confession.

As stated by Mississippi law and by Smith in the courtroom Tuesday, all defendants are eligible for bail, except in capital cases, when, among other conditions, “the proof is evident or presumption is great.”

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At the hearing, Lumpkin, who served 10 years in prison for a 1992 manslaughter conviction, was without counsel. Judge Price informed the defendant that one of the two Warren County circuit judges, Isadore Patrick and Frank Vollor, would appoint an attorney to represent him.

Smith said the case will be presented to a grand jury “as soon as possible.” However, because the prosecution is awaiting final autopsy results and DNA tests, Smith said he does not expect the case to be ready by the next grand jury term, which is in August.

“This is a case where we want to make sure we have all the facts and all the needed evidence,” Smith said. “We don’t like to rush any cases, and we’re certainly not going to rush a case of this magnitude or one this serious.”

After August, the next grand jury will convene in October.

If Lumpkin is indicted and a trial jury later finds him guilty of capital murder, a second trial will determine the penalty, which may include execution. If a jury cannot agree on the death penalty in a capital murder conviction, the judge must impose a life sentence.

In Mississippi, a capital murder charge must include, in addition to a homicide charge, the charge of a separate felony such as sexual assault or kidnapping. An autopsy performed by the state examiner determined the cause of death as a “violent homicide.”

Sharonda’s body was found May 27 by a grass-cutting worker off Mississippi 433 in Yazoo County, about 1.4 miles east of Mississippi 3. The discovery came three days after the student at Warren Central Junior High last had been seen by family. Relatives reported that she was last seen with Lumpkin, who is also the father of one of the girl’s half-sisters, when he picked up the girls from the municipal swimming pool at City Park.

Lumpkin was arrested by the Warren County Sheriff’s Department the day Sharonda’s body was found and he was turned over to Yazoo authorities. On Friday, Lumpkin was charged with Sharonda’s death. Lumpkin, who lived at 204 Sherman Ave., said during the weekend that he was in Warren County when he killed Brown, making the case a Warren County matter.

But despite the Warren County Sheriff’s Department’s leading-agency position in the case, Sheriff Martin Pace said the Vicksburg Police Department and Yazoo County Sheriff’s Department will remain heavily involved.

“They have done a terrific job during the course of this investigation,” he said. “And we’ll continue working with them in preparing this case.”

Lumpkin was released from prison five years ago after being convicted of manslaughter in 1992 and serving 10 years. In that case, Lumpkin was found guilty of shooting to death a woman with whom he lived.