Convention center shooting, stabbing headed to grand jury

Published 12:04 pm Monday, July 30, 2012

The stabbing of a Warren County woman caught on video and a shooting inside the Vicksburg Convention Center are among the cases grand jurors were expected to review when they convened this morning.

Clarence Jones, 23, 506 Kirkland Road, is charged with aggravated assault in the stabbing of his ex-girlfriend, Jordan Melton, 23, 404 Culkin Road, while she was working as a waitress at Ameristar Casino on July 21.

“We’re doing our best to get this presented,” District Attorney Ricky Smith said.

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Jones, who was under a court-ordered restraining order to stay away from Melton, stabbed her with a knife multiple times in the back and torso on the crowded casino floor, police have said. Casino security and patrons witnessed the stabbing and were able to restrain Jones, and the attack was captured on casino surveillance videos.

“It’s hard to watch,” Smith said.

In April, Jones was charged with aggravated domestic violence and burglary after beating Melton in the face, Smith said, and the grand jury is expected to also review those cases.

Everett Defrance, 22, 227 High Hill Drive, is charged with shooting into an occupied business in an Easter morning shooting at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

The shooting occurred after a public party attended by about 450 people April 8 at the center. About 150 people remained inside the convention center when a bullet ricocheted off a door and lodged in the ceiling, said Troy Thorn, executive director of the convention center.

Though Defrance was in custody by the time the May grand jury convened, Smith said his office did not have time to assemble all the evidence.

The stabbing and shooting are two of just a handful of violent crimes to be presented to the grand jury, Smith said. The bulk of the case-load is property and drug crimes, he said.

“It appears that the number of violent cases is at least dropping,” Smith said.

The panel of 18 grand jurors was chosen this morning from a pool of about 250 registered voters and sworn in by Circuit Judge M. James Chaney.

They will review about 100 criminal cases and issue indictments if there is enough evidence to go to trial. If indicted, defendants will be arraigned, or formally advised of the charges against them and given a trial date in circuit court.

In addition to reviewing evidence in criminal cases, jurors will tour the Warren County Jail, Youth Court and Children’s Shelter and meet with County and Youth Court Judge Johnny Price and other county officials. They also will prepare a report of recommendations for the Board of Supervisors.