Batman and Melton Return | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Batman and Melton Return

A showdown of sorts between District Attorney Faye Peterson and Mayor Frank Melton occurred on Monday in Circuit Court Judge Bobby DeLaughter's courtroom, during motions in the trial of alleged Wood Street Players gang members.

Last week, Peterson had filed a motion (with attachments) with the court to drop charges against alleged Wood Street Players leader Albert "Batman" Donelson for ordering the murder of Aaron Crockett on May 10, 2000. According to the motion, the primary witness in the case is tainted by interference from Melton.

As head of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Melton arrested about a dozen associates of the Wood Street Players in 2003 for several crimes, including the murders of Crockett, Harrison Hilliard and Keon Perry. Melton says that Donelson ordered all three of the murders—which are part of a complicated and brutal trail of back-and-forth killings believed to be turf skirmishes over the drug trade in Jackson.

Crockett was shot 20 times as he sat in a car with his 13-month*-old son. Prosecutors argue that Donelson wanted Crockett silenced because he was likely to testify that Donelson had tried to kill him earlier at a nightclub.

To date, though, much of the MBN evidence has not sustained guilty verdicts, and witnesses have proved unreliable, resulting in several acquittals.

The district attorney declined comment on the case because it is currently on trial. However, her motion to dismiss stated that the primary witness, Christopher "Smiley" Walker, 23, a former associate of Donelson in the Wood Street Players, is tainted due to "improper rewards for cooperation" provided to him by Melton. Attachments to the motion include an affidavit by MBN agent John Forman stating that, while at MBN, Melton told Walker that he would appoint him to be an MBN agent and allowed him to handle weapons, although Walker was on probation.

The evidence of tampering also includes a videotape of an interrogation of Walker, provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration, that shows that MBN made agreements about leniency to him that were not disclosed to Peterson. Tasha Clark states in a letter that Melton and MBN agents threatened her to get her to testify in the case.

Another statement by a cousin of Walker, Marquellos Stubbs, details that Melton rented him an apartment at SunChase in Ridgeland, provided him a car, money, liquor, security codes to his home and a credit card embossed with "Frank E. Melton."

Indeed, Melton told the JFP that he met with Peterson last week, and she told him that the trial would be more about Melton than Donelson if she pursued it with the current evidence. "The situation was, she didn't want to try him because the case wasn't going to be about him. It was going to be about me," Melton told the JFP.

Walker, a former Wood Street Player who is getting his GED and plans to get married in October, has a close relationship with Melton, which neither of them dispute.

In an interview Tuesday, Walker said that Melton taught him to swim at the Farish YMCA, and he used to visit him at his old house in Madison. And, he said, Melton will help him whenever he needs it, which has included paying him to do odd jobs such as cutting his grass or washing his car.

"Frank ain't never paid me for nothing toward the Wood Street case. … Frank done helped me when I needed help," said Walker, who served 18 months for a weapons charge and was acquitted for two murders on Mobile Street in 2001.

Both men say that Walker needed protection—and Melton was the only one offering it. Most recently, Walker said, his former associates have left threats on his cell phone and gotten messages to him in person.

"I couldn't leave this young man out there to be killed. They're going to kill Chris just like they did Aaron Crockett," Melton said.

Despite the charges of tampering, Melton believes that Walker—whom he arrested with the Wood Street Players and later took into his home to live in October 2003, for protection, he said—is key to the case.

"Here's the issue," Melton said Tuesday, "Christopher, who you met the other day at my house, he is really the key witness. He could have gotten on the phone and testified that he answered the phone and gave it to Terrell. Then he overheard the argument between Terrell and Batman."

Melton is referring to the call that Albert Donelson allegedly made to his brother Terrell from the Hinds County Detention Center in May 2000 to order the hit.

For the week or so leading up to the trial, Melton sheltered Walker in his North Jackson home because, he said, Walker's life was in danger since he planned to testify against his Wood Street friends. On Sunday evening, Walker attended a dinner Melton prepared for several of his adoptees, Police Chief Shirlene Anderson, Assistant Chief Roy Sandifer, two bodyguards and an attorney for another member of the Wood Street Players.

Two representatives of the Jackson Free Press were also present, before accompanying the mayor and police on their Sunday night rounds in the city.

Donelson supporters say that Melton has a "vendetta" against Donelson, and is trying to frame and hush him by paying witnesses to testify. "He's afraid of (Donelson). It's something that Albert knows about Frank because Frank can't stand rejection, and he doesn't want to fool with him or deal with him," said Lela Hubbard outside the courtroom Monday.

On Monday afternoon, Melton brought Walker to the court, intending to proffer him as a witness in order to convince the judge to continue the trial against Donelson, he said.

However, prosecutors showed up with another witness—Nathaniel Brent. As Melton and Walker listened from the back row, Brent, 30, testified that he has known Donelson for 25 years after growing up on Wood Street with him. "We were best friends. We would hang together every day," he told the court, while wearing a bright-yellow jumpsuit. He said he had known Crockett for 15 years, but they weren't friends.

Brent is currently serving life in prison for habitual arrests for drug possession and aggravated assault. He and Donelson were imprisoned in the Hinds County jail, where he said the prisoners could get marijuana, women and cell phones whenever they wanted it, with the help of some of the guards.

He said Monday that one of the deputies was affiliated with the Vice Lords and brought Brent the cell phone that Donelson later used to order the hit on Crockett. The next day, Brent said, Donelson confirmed to him that he had ordered the killing.

As Melton leaned forward listening on the bench, elbows on knees, Brent told the court that he had written letters from jail to both Peterson and Melton telling his story right before Melton left MBN. "I was going through a transition, and trying to clean out my closet," he said.

During jury selection on Tuesday, defense attorneys showed concern for the role that Melton is playing from the sidelines, asking potential jurors if they were aware that Melton had planned to present witnesses against Donelson.

Additional reporting by Adam Lynch.

* Editor's note: I erroneously typed "13-year-old" instead of "13-month-old" in the above story for the age of Aaron Crockett's son who was in the car. I apologize for the error. *

Previous Comments

ID
65812
Comment

Would it not be a good idea for Melton to just sit down and give the DA or someone all of the information that he has concerning the people that he constantly talks about? It never fails that he always has some last minute proof to keep these issues going. How long are we to be given kibbles and bits? There has been an uprising of crimes of all types in the city lately and Melton has been seldom seen. These issues need to be over so that we can move on. If these individulas are guilty, then convict and prosecute them. If they are innocent, then let them go and move on. I can hardly wait until the JFP interview with Melton.

Author
lance
Date
2006-04-04T22:38:26-06:00
ID
65813
Comment

It is extremely evident that: #1 Frank Melton will go to any extreme to get what he wants and prove his "point." #2 He is definitily hiding something. (soemthing that will probably get him in more trouble than he already is.)

Author
jan2006
Date
2006-04-05T09:08:29-06:00
ID
65814
Comment

"Would it not be a good idea for Melton to just sit down and give the DA or someone all of the information that he has concerning the people that he constantly talks about?" Exactly! Isn't that what a normal person would do?

Author
jan2006
Date
2006-04-05T09:09:35-06:00
ID
65815
Comment

I need to reserve my copy! I wanna read this.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2006-04-05T09:17:17-06:00
ID
65816
Comment

i'm not defending anyone here but a guy got shot 20 times in his car with his kid next to him....that's harsh. Did his son make it? I surely hope so. given our da's stellar record in convicting folks (my favorite being the dude in the jackson mall popping off rounds getting a walk because of her strict interpretation of what an occupied dwelling is) i'm trust what she says just about as much as I'm trusting the mayor...don't two negatives make a positive? None the less, we can all blame the mayor or the da. They both seem to screw up regularly...the thing that haunts me is it's been 6 years since these murders took place. It's obvious to me someone didn't want this to go to trial or was just too ignorant to get it there.

Author
guywithanidea
Date
2006-04-05T09:20:26-06:00
ID
65817
Comment

Yes, his son made it, guy. I think the mall case you're referring to had more to do with the actual law than Ms. Peterson's "strict interpretation" of it, as I recall.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-04-05T11:26:39-06:00
ID
65818
Comment

Glad to hear it about his son. Personally I can't believe firing a gun in a mall full of people wasn't breaking some law...I tell you if they can fine someone nearly $200 bucks for not paying a car tag on time you would think there would be a law the whopper snapper broke by firing a gun in the mall. none the less, between the sheriff , the mayor, talk show hosts, and the news complaining about cases not being pursued by the da's office we would think they would do better than 6 years to finally try a case. Personally I don't give a crap if they hire more prosecutors and detectives and have to raise taxes to pay for them (we'll recoop it in the number of people who stay in Jackson or maybe even come), but due process is definitely not being served. Truthfully maybe what we need to do is just clear the slate and just start over. Anyways when's the election for DA? We need a reformists in the office!

Author
guywithanidea
Date
2006-04-05T12:34:46-06:00
ID
65819
Comment

I didn't say there is no law against it. It's just that laws involving guns in Mississippi tend to be very, very lax. The D.A. can't prosecute if the law doesn't back her up. Or the evidence. That isn't to defend her; it's just to say that much of the complaining about her not winning these very difficult gang-related cases, where they threaten each other and back and forth, and the evidence gets compromised, is reactionary. The difficulty of these cases is becoming much more clear to me as I learn more about them and their history and how so many of the people involved overlap. But you'll read more about that in upcoming issues. And a reformist won't do you any good if the law isn't there to follow.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-04-05T12:42:54-06:00
ID
65820
Comment

All, Brian just posted PDFs of the attachments to the motion, which are about Mr. Melton and MBN trying to influence the witness. See for yourself what the allegations are.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-04-06T16:20:15-06:00
ID
65821
Comment

Seems to be a page missing about the CC of Melton's between pages 7 and 8. This is surreal! And the most important part is they are going to call Asst. Chief Sandifer to testify as an expert witness against the "informant management" of Walker by Melton.

Author
pikersam
Date
2006-04-06T20:24:17-06:00
ID
65822
Comment

And this dirtbag has the nerve to call himself "Batman". My Lawd.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2006-04-06T20:26:12-06:00
ID
65823
Comment

This is beyond words. How can this man (Melton) sleep at night? I know that this is only concerning this case, but common sense will tell you that our mayor is living a double life. These attachments bring things together now. The night patrols with the police, the statement "I may take a leave of absence to catch Sullivan", the off-the-top-of-his-head name calling of people associated with the WSP. I have a bog of Orville Redenbacher's popcorn and a drink ready, while Frank explains this one. It always sticks in the back of your mind......how does he know so much about these people? Well, it seems that his ties with them are much more than we could have imagined. This certainly does not look good, at least in my sight. This is CSI, Law & Order, Without a Trace, and The A-Team all rolled into one.

Author
lance
Date
2006-04-06T20:29:29-06:00
ID
65824
Comment

He looks more like "Uncle Fester" to me!

Author
pikersam
Date
2006-04-06T20:31:20-06:00
ID
65825
Comment

This is surreal! And the most important part is they are going to call Asst. Chief Sandifer to testify as an expert witness against the "informant management" of Walker by Melton. The defense WAS going to call Chief Sandifer, I think, according to these documents, which is why the prosecution was going to withdraw. As I understand it, this is why the district attorney filed the motion to dismiss -- because the defense had all this evidence with which to discredit Mr. Melton, MBN, and the witnesses, Walker and Washington. Mr. Melton told me today that he is angry that the prosecution is not going to call Chief Sandifer, who handled the investigation for MBN. I asked him if it was because defense was going to come back with all this, and he shrugged it off. He doesn't seem to think the evidence of tampering with the witnesses is very strong or important. And he says he did what he did to protect Mr. Walker BECAUSE he needed protection because he was going to testify -- not to buy his testimony. He admits the apartment, the credit card with his name, and so on. And he's furious that the D.A. won't call Walker to corroborate. Mr. Melton's comments are all on the record; I'll get more formal quotes and such out there soon. Meantime, I rather expect the defense to pull all this in, yet, especially since Mr. Washington is one of the witnesses. Perhaps tomorrow (Friday).

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-04-06T23:57:28-06:00
ID
65826
Comment

I'll get Brian to check on the missing page, pike.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-04-07T00:00:49-06:00
ID
65827
Comment

I realize this woman made a weak threat with "he'll get his!" - But, that could be interpreted as "when we vote him out of office." Either way, that doesn't mean Melton can just waltz over to her house, brandish a weapon, then say he doesn’t give a damn. :o) hahaha... Frank can do what he wants, he's the Mayor remember? I would really like to know who voted for this guy and how they feel about his administration thus far, but I can seem to find...a single....soul... weird.

Author
JSU
Date
2006-04-12T15:20:38-06:00
ID
65828
Comment

You ain't looking in the right place. They're in Eastover.

Author
Rex
Date
2006-04-12T15:38:02-06:00
ID
65829
Comment

Eastover is not the majority vote in Jackson. It's probably no more than 100-150 households in the entire neighborhood, if that. that's not enough to elect a Mayor by landslide. some in the "hood" voted for him too, as did some of the "Fondrenites", and other people all over Jackson. maybe even a few absentee ballots, but whereever they are they have toatlly hid their heads in the sand.

Author
JSU
Date
2006-04-12T16:09:17-06:00
ID
65830
Comment

I don't know how I missed this article. Melton has obsession and he's Superbad.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-04-12T18:25:29-06:00

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