Tyla Vega on trial this week for murder
Published 11:04 am Monday, March 3, 2014
Jury selection began this morning in the murder case of a Warren County teenager accused of killing her stepmother in 2011.
Tyla Vega, 17, is accused of murder in the May 2, 2011 shooting death of her stepmother. She faces a potential life sentence if convicted, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders are unconstitutional.
Vega was 14 when her stepmother was shot to death.
Jurors were chosen from a pool of about 300 Warren County residents chosen at random from voter lists and sworn in by Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick.
Tyla Vega’s trial was first set for Feb. 21, 2012, but it was delayed multiple times as attorneys waited for a mental evaluation to be completed.
Her attorney, Marshall Sanders, initially asked for the evaluation seven days before her trial was set to begin.
The teen was examined by psychiatrist Billy Fox of Clinton but, Patrick ruled in August 2012 that the results were inconclusive.
The Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield was unable to take Vega because of limited bed space, and Fox was called to the stand again in April 2012 when he testified that he was not qualified to perform evaluations with teens.
Psychologist Gerald O’Brien completed the evaluation that led to the competency ruling.
Vega’s murder charge stems from the shooting death of 32-year-old Michelle Vega on May 2, 2011, at the home they and their immediate family shared at 100 Jones Road.
Jones Road runs north from Jeff Davis Road near Beard Cemetery.
Michelle Vega was shot in the face, and Patrick has ruled that photos of her body taken after the shooting will be admissible at trial.
Tyla Vega was arrested six days later in Greenville after fleeing Warren County in the family’s vehicle. A family member posted $75,000 bond, and the teen was released from the Warren County Jail.
The bond was surrendered in December 2011 because Tyla Vega was caught by a relative in Tallulah attempting to get aboard a tractor-trailer rig bound for Chicago, bail bonds agent Trish Younger has said in court.
Since December 2011, Tyla Vega has been held in the Warren County Jail.