Hearing delayed in Cole killing case

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The preliminary court hearing for the man accused of killing former Vicksburg policeman Walter Cole has been rescheduled for Jan. 7.

Tyler Lee Smith, 51, 3105 N. Washington St., was to have appeared in court Tuesday to have evidence in his case reviewed before Circuit Judge M. James Chaney. The hearing was first postponed to this morning and then reset for next week after prosecution witnesses were unavailable due to the holiday, said District Attorney Ricky Smith.

The defendant was arrested Nov. 6 and charged with the July 23, 2008, shooting of Cole, a former assistant police chief and one of the department’s first seven black officers hired in the 1970s.

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Cole, who was 75, was found in his car, parked at Pittman Road and Railroad Avenue, around 8:30 a.m. after a search by his uncle, Willie Jordan, 87. The case remained open for 17 months until Tyler Smith’s arrest.

Tyler Smith was booked on capital murder charges because Cole had also been robbed, police Lt. Bobby Stewart said. Mississippi provides for the death sentence in homicides which include a separate felony.

If Chaney rules that the evidence against Tyler Smith is sufficient, the case will be presented to the Warren County grand jury to seek an indictment. District Attorney Smith said the case file might be ready for grand jury’s January term.