Teen indicted in stepmother’s murder Bond hearing to be Aug. 12

Published 11:46 am Friday, July 29, 2011

Tyla Vega, a 14-year-old Warren County girl accused of shooting her stepmother to death on May 2, has been indicted and, on Thursday, was formally charged with murder.

Her trial date was set for Feb. 21 in Warren County Circuit Court.

Vicksburg lawyer Marshall Sanders, Vega’s court-appointed attorney, entered a “not guilty” plea before Judge Isadore Patrick and requested that bond be set for the teen, who has been held without bond in the Warren County Jail since her arrest May 8 in Greenville.

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Sanders pointed out Vega’s age, repeatedly referring to her as “the child,” and said she has been jailed with the “general population” of women inmates.

Female inmates occupy two large cells that hold multiple prisoners.

Objecting to bond, Assistant District Attorney Lane Campbell told Patrick that Vega is considered a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Patrick took the motion under advisement and set a bond hearing for Aug. 12 at 9 a.m.

Vega, 100 Jones Road, Lot 19, is accused of shooting her stepmother, Michelle Vega. Tyla Vega was seen driving away from the family’s home minutes before Michelle Vega’s body was found. She was arrested after a six-day, multicounty search.

If convicted of murder, Tyla Vega faces life imprisonment.

Though juveniles accused of felonies are usually not identified — their cases usually are heard in Youth Court — Mississippi law requires that those 13 and older accused of crimes such as murder and those that include the use or attempted use of a deadly weapon be tried as an adult, District Attorney Ricky Smith said.

The teen appeared calm and impassive during Thursday’s proceeding, which was attended by several observers apparently in her support. Vega nodded to them as she was taken by deputies back to the jail.

Vega was one of 10 defendants arraigned Thursday following grand jury indictments issued this week. Additional arraignments are set for today.

The panel of 18 grand jurors was also expected to review the homicide case against Winifred Allen, 64, 2255 Freetown Road, Lot 1. Allen was arrested May 26 at 1254 Dillon Ridge Road, where his son, Gerald Wayne “Jerry” Allen, who was 36 and lived at 1626 Broadhill Drive, had been shot multiple times. Winifred Allen was charged with murder.

The cases of two others, both charged in May with homicide, Corey Thompson, 25, 4880 U.S. 80, arrested for the accidental shooting death of his co-worker, and Daniel O’Neil Dodd, 28, of Tyler, Texas, charged with armed robbery and capital murder following a botched robbery attempt, were also expected to be reviewed by grand jurors, Smith said.

The grand jury, sworn in by Patrick on Monday, reviewed the evidence in more than 120 felony cases before concluding its service late Thursday. They issued more than 100 indictments, he said.

Indictments are not made public until defendants are arraigned in circuit court — formally advised of the charges against them and given a trial date.

Grand jurors also toured the jail, the Warren County Children’s Shelter and the Youth Court.

They also issued a report of recommendations, which was expected to be made public today.

Others arraigned Thursday and their charges were:

• Billy Wayne Broadwater, 54, 7373 U.S. 80 — driving under the influence, third offense, March 31.

• William Clarence Elliott, 57, 141 Cumberland Road — sexual battery, victim under age 14, March 13, and possession of a weapon after felony conviction, March 14.

• Anthony Ray Evans, 18, 3009 Oak St. — burglary of a dwelling, Dec. 15.

• Antonio Henderson, 30, 2727 Alcorn Drive — aggravated assault-extreme indifference, Jan. 2.

• Michael Levon Parker, 26, 40 Ironwood Drive — fleeing or eluding a law enforcement officer, Dec. 18.

• Antonio Ragsdale, 33, 1415 High St. — domestic aggravated assault-strangling, Sept. 3.

• Amber Marie Savell, 23, 1702 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. — felony shoplifting, Nov. 18.

• Jason Kyle Skinner, 19, 310 Dogwood Lake Drive — attempted burglary of a dwelling, April 24.

• William Taylor, 21, address unavailable — possession of stolen firearms and receiving stolen property, Dec. 30.