Grand jury to hear evidence in capital murder
Published 12:00 am Monday, January 26, 2009
The abduction and murder of a teen girl from City Park — which could result in a death sentence — is among about 100 cases to be weighed by members of a Warren County Grand Jury empaneled today.
James Lumpkin, 46, who served a previous term for manslaughter, faces capital murder, assault and kidnap charges, in the death of Sharonda L. “Na-Na” Brown, who was his own daughter’s half-sister.
According to authorities, Lumpkin picked up Sharonda and her sisters at City Pool, dropped the other girls off at home and drove away with Sharonda.
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Her body was found days later, May 27, in the grass off Mississippi 433 in Yazoo County. Authorities also said Lumpkin, who has remained in jail without bond since his arrest, provided a statement indicating Sharonda died in Warren County, so the case will be heard here.
Under Mississippi law, a death sentence is allowed when a murder conviction is accompanied by a separate conviction for a violent felony, such as kidnapping or assault. If the grand jurors empaneled by Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick this morning indict Lumpkin and he is tried and convicted for the death and one of the other felonies, a second phase of the trial would follow during which the same jurors would decide whether he would be sent to death row at Parchman.
Lumpkin served 10 years on the manslaughter conviction.
District Attorney Ricky Smith said other cases vary widely. “The grand jury will be looking at a broad spectrum of cases,” Smith said, “everything from auto burglary to murder. We’ve got some of everything in this grand jury session.”
Several drug cases, including possession of precursor chemicals in the manufacture of methamphetamine, crack cocaine and marijuana, were also to be heard.
Grand jurors will hear evidence from law enforcement officers about the cases and decide if the evidence is sufficient to indict. If so, suspects will then be arraigned and trial dates will be set. Most will remain free on bond pending the resolution of their case through a jury trial or plea bargain.
Generally, members of the grand jury tour the jail late in the week as part of their service. Smith said this term he and Sheriff Martin Pace may conduct the tour earlier.
Voters are selected at random to serve on grand juries four times a year in Warren County. Subsequent 2009 sessions begin May 4, Aug. 3, and Oct. 26.
People accused of felonies have a right to have their cases reviewed by grand juries before trials are held. The right can be waived.
Contact Pamela Hitchins at email@example.com