Day 2: Many Objections, Eye Witnesses at Melton Trial | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Day 2: Many Objections, Eye Witnesses at Melton Trial

After Senior Assistant District Attorney Stanley Alexander finished redirect of Lawrence Cooper Jr. in the felony trial of Mayor Frank Melton Tuesday morning, Judge Joe Webster called a brief recess. When attorneys returned, Webster lectured outside the presence of the jury. "When I rule on something, that's it," Webster warned, saying that it "got a little out of hand" during Cooper's testimony. Tuesday was marked by frequent objections.

The prosecution's next witness was Jennifer Sutton, who owns the duplex. Sutton said she has lived in the Virden Addition all her life. She is a house keepr at a retirement home in Ridgeland with two children. She lives about a block away from Ridgeway Street.

She said she purchased the duplex at 1305 Ridgeway, along with several adjacent properties, in 2004 for $25,000. Evans Welch lived at the duplex at the time she bought it and paid $160 a month, though his mother made actual payments.

Sutton said she heard about what happened at Ridgeway the night of Aug. 26, 2006, but she didn't go to the property then because she was afraid. The next day, she took photographs of the damage, which prosecutors submitted as evidence and jurors passed around.

Sutton said she did not go into the duplex then because there was too much debris, and the demolition had exposed live wires. She had to call Entergy to have the power turned off, Sutton testified.

She said that on Sept. 6, Melton called her and offered to fix the house. She said the contractors Melton said would fix the house had city emblems on their trucks. "He was very rude to me," Sutton testified about the phone call with Melton, and she admitted that she had hung up on him.

She said no police officer or city official had ever communicated with her about there being a problem at the duplex before Aug. 26.

Next was Louvenia Welch, who is Evans Welch's mother. She said Melton had not contacted her to say she should take her son back.

Melton attorney Dale Danks asked her to read a quote she had made to The Clarion-Ledger in which she expressed worry about her sons' friends.

Then Capt. Bobby Funchess, an investigator with the sheriff's department, took the stand to report on how he had investigated the case for the DA's office. "What I found was obvious," he said. "The front wall ... was missing. Also, the awning had been pulled down into the yard."

Webster would not allow prosecutors to admit photos Funchess took into evidence because he took them Sept. 6, 2006. "We have no way of knowing what happened between Aug. 26, Aug. 27 and Sept. 6," Webster said.

Later, the judge did allow prosecutors to admit one photo Funchess took of paint flung all over Welch's stove after Cooper returned to the stand and said it was an "accurate description" of his firsthand account of the defendants flinging paint.

Prosecutors then called Yolanda Allen, who said she lives at 1309 Ridgeway St., next door to the demolished duplex. She testified that she saw a big white police van pull up in front of the house the night of Aug. 26, 2006, and Melton, Wright and Recio, along with "about eight kids," came out of the police vehicle.

Her testimony closely matched that of earlier witnesses. She said Melton had a "big stick" and that the youths had sledgehammers. She testified that one of the youths who helped demolish the duplex said, "Look at what Frank has us doing. We're Wood Street tearin' up Virden. We're tearin' #### up."

She also testified that Melton had smashed in windows and that he had said, "I'm tired of this ####," to people in the neighborhood.

On cross-examination, Melton attorney Merrida Coxwell Jr. questioned apparent inconsistencies in Allen's testimony today with statements she had made to the DA's office. Allen acknowledged that she had seen a police raid on the duplex two weeks before Aug. 26, but she could not remember any others in the previous year.

She sparred with Coxwell over the signifigance of people in the neighborhood saying that "folks are coming," which is a code for the police. "They yell that all the time around there," Allen said.

"Is that what they yell so drug dealers can run?" Coxwell asked.

"I don't know about no drug dealers," she replied.

On redirect, Alexander asked if she had ever seen Welch deal drugs, and she said no.

The final witness in the morning was Anthony Richardson, who also lives near Ridgeway. Richardson identified all three defendats as being at the duplex the night of Aug. 26. He said that he saw Melton smash windows in the duplex, and that two youths got off the Mobile Command Center with sledgehammers.

He said Wright had ordered him to go home as he observed the events. "I said I was a grown man," Richardson testified. "He can't tell me to go home."

On cross-examination, Danks asked about Richardson's drinking habits, asking him to confirm that he had had alcohol the morning of the Ridgeway incident. Danks asked Richardson several times if he'd had any alcohol before testifying. "No sir," Richardson replied, "but after this I probably will."

Watch for further updates

Previous Comments

ID
127540
Comment

Since melton is seated with his back to the Judge, could it be that he has eye contact with his wife, Dr. Melton? Has anyone seen her during any of these court events? Just wondering!!!!!!!

Author
justjess
Date
2007-04-24T13:52:48-06:00
ID
127541
Comment

It's not historically appropriate for the guilty to look at the face of the executioner. That's why he's not looking forward. :) And his wife being there? Hee! That's funny.

Author
Lady Havoc
Date
2007-04-24T13:57:52-06:00
ID
127542
Comment

It is a good point that one would think that members of Mr. Melton's biological family would be here to support him in arguably his darkest hour. Report in if anyone spots any of them.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T14:02:48-06:00
ID
127543
Comment

Donna, i doubt it if any of them will be here. I would be too embarrassed. Wrong is just wrong, and them coming all the way from Texas won't change the fact that Melton messed up. BIG TIME!

Author
Melishia
Date
2007-04-24T14:13:10-06:00
ID
127544
Comment

That is really sad if his son and daughter are not here! the marriage is one thing; but, your children are your children. He should have gone to the National Championship Football game!

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-04-24T14:13:56-06:00
ID
127545
Comment

I've seen them only once, so I wouldn't know them from Adam.

Author
Lady Havoc
Date
2007-04-24T14:14:58-06:00
ID
127546
Comment

They let the video feed on a bit; and it looks like Robert Smith and Recio (or another atty) are looking at the cellphone photos as if this is the first time they have seen them.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-04-24T14:18:55-06:00
ID
127547
Comment

His daughter, lauren, told me to get a life after I posted frank's mugshots on my facebook profile. I guess that was "insensative". but she said I had valid points on my feelings towards frank but the picture was embarrissing. so i took it down.

Author
jd
Date
2007-04-24T14:20:41-06:00
ID
127548
Comment

Wright and Recio look very nervous

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-04-24T14:30:55-06:00
ID
127549
Comment

Did I hear correct that the prosecution is not going to prosecute count 5 because they cannot prove it?

Author
JenniferGriffin
Date
2007-04-24T15:10:49-06:00
ID
127550
Comment

Which one is that? Did it hinge on something that the judge wouldn't let in? Brian will be back shortly, and all questions will be answered. Hang tight, and stay close.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T15:12:52-06:00
ID
127551
Comment

Wasn't count 5 the one about directing a minor?

Author
JenniferGriffin
Date
2007-04-24T15:27:50-06:00
ID
127552
Comment

Ack, the feed stopped! Any feeds aside from WAPT?

Author
GLewis
Date
2007-04-24T15:32:49-06:00
ID
127553
Comment

WLBT just ended their feed. The judge ruled against defense motions to dismiss the counts, stating that he felt the prosecution had submitted enough evidence to proceed. But just before the break, one of the ADA's stated that on count 5 they would nol pros. I missed if this was taken up after the break.

Author
JenniferGriffin
Date
2007-04-24T15:40:36-06:00
ID
127554
Comment

Yes, it seems they dismissed count 5. Prosecution rested. Brian is on his way with more.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T15:41:54-06:00
ID
127555
Comment

To be fair to Frank's biological children, assuming that they haven't shown up in court for support, both of them are in college and my guess is that this isn't an event that would warrant them taking time away from school, especially with final exams around the corner. The way the testimony is going, FM's going down.

Author
golden eagle '97
Date
2007-04-24T15:53:32-06:00
ID
127556
Comment

I had a feeling one of those counts wouldn't stick, but I didn't expect to see that until after jury deliberation.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-04-24T15:58:27-06:00
ID
127557
Comment

To be fair to Frank's biological children, assuming that they haven't shown up in court for support, both of them are in college and my guess is that this isn't an event that would warrant them taking time away from school, especially with final exams around the corner. golden eagle My guess is he didn't feel he needed them there. Having your family in the court is very important.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-04-24T15:59:50-06:00
ID
127558
Comment

judge has also been quickly tossing their motions to dismiss and motion for a mistrial.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-24T16:09:50-06:00
ID
127559
Comment

So, for the lawyers on the thread, if the judge feels there is evidence to proceed, but the jury possibly comes back with acquital, can the Judge overrule that and render a guilty verdict? Sorry...maybe too much law and order type stuff here. HA

Author
JenniferGriffin
Date
2007-04-24T16:17:11-06:00
ID
127560
Comment

I'm not a lawyer, Jennifer, but the answer is no. On the other hand, if the jury finds a defendant guilty and the judge does not feel there was sufficient evidence, he can enter an order setting aside the guilty verdict and enter a judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

Author
thetruth
Date
2007-04-24T16:42:18-06:00
ID
127561
Comment

I'm not sure if this is correct, but I thought I heard on WAPT at 5:00 that the 5th count was thrown out, because Michael Taylor wasn't available to testify for the prosecution. Did anyone else hear that? If he's not available, I wonder where the heck he is??

Author
JAR
Date
2007-04-24T16:46:07-06:00
ID
127562
Comment

I'm guessing that they didn't trust him to put him on the stand. I mean, would you? He's been through a lot of confusing stuff with Melton. It's anyone's guess what he would say. And I doubt the folks on the scene could identify him. However, I think it's just tragic that that charge is thrown out. The most disgusting thing Melton did, it seems, was order young, troubled people to commit crimes for him. There's a special place ... oh, never mind.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T16:57:37-06:00
ID
127563
Comment

Could Faye not find a bigger bunch of losers to testify against Frank. These witnesses are the largest collection of dog sh!t I've ever seen.

Author
FrankMandela
Date
2007-04-24T17:12:28-06:00
ID
127564
Comment

I have to agree I'm upset with that charge being thrown out. I also think it was the most disgusting.

Author
MS39047
Date
2007-04-24T17:12:40-06:00
ID
127565
Comment

I agree with Frank Mandela, I mean could the prosecution at least attempt to put on a case with credible witness' that are not winos, whores & crackheads. Melton walks its a done deal, plus their are 11 women & 1 man on the jury & when have you ever heard of that many women getting into a room together & agreeing on anything?

Author
snowjob
Date
2007-04-24T17:15:40-06:00
ID
127566
Comment

Curt, I guess you've never been over to W Ridgeway (we need to note that Fondren has E Ridgeway ((same street)) that dead-ends at the railroad. E Ridgeway is well on its way to becoming a really nice street. But, it is those kinds of statements that will forever keep Jackson and Mississippi behind. You obviously don't understand.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-04-24T17:16:53-06:00
ID
127567
Comment

I see the Meltonoids are back from the trial. Anyone noticed how Stephanie Parker-Weaver walks behind Melton about 10 steps - like wives in certain places that still practice this perverse rule?

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-04-24T17:23:11-06:00
ID
127568
Comment

Where did "Curt" post, Pike? agree with Frank Mandela, I mean could the prosecution at least attempt to put on a case with credible witness' that are not winos, whores & crackheads. Perhaps the prosecution could if those weren't the people that Mr. Melton chooses to pick on. It's pretty weird to pick on the fact that the neighborhood he alleged attacked is filled with the most downtrodden people in our city. I mean, that was his choice. It's really silly to try to blame the D.A. for his choices, eh? I will also remind you elegant gentlemen that calling human beings "dog sh!t" is pretty low class. If that is the case, what are the young people who Mr. Melton "helps" who then get in trouble for carjacking and gun-toting and violating bond and various other fun things. "Dog sh!t," too? Needless to say, you boyz are going to have to class up a bit if you want to post here. We don't stereotype people like that. I'm sure y'all could find another site that would welcome such trash. Shape up, or go find it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T17:23:13-06:00
ID
127569
Comment

(And, yes, Pike, methinks they're back for another try. Guess the crickets got a little deafening for them elsewhere. )

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T17:24:37-06:00
ID
127570
Comment

Its not like Frank hangs out at Bravos or Elixer at night. Since he tends to hang out in "bad" neighborhoods and have his wood street gang for company all the time, I guess that is where you are going to have to find witnesses against him.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-24T17:26:15-06:00
ID
127571
Comment

first time posters I'm willing to bet. During the trial. surprise.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-24T17:27:07-06:00
ID
127572
Comment

Regardless of what or who they are, they won't seem credible to the jury & it will either hang or acquit. Merrida Coxwell & double D have pulled off some great lawyering, particularly with pointing out in voir dire that no one reads the JFP blogs, the little "magazine outside the grocery store" as Coxwell put it. Are y'all going to endorse Frank in '09?

Author
snowjob
Date
2007-04-24T17:28:47-06:00
ID
127573
Comment

Gaius was also the name of Caligula. That would be more appropriate. Melton doesn't have the brains to be a GJC.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-24T17:30:52-06:00
ID
127574
Comment

Yeah, Donna. If you want Frank gone, just endorse him next election.

Author
FrankMandela
Date
2007-04-24T17:30:59-06:00
ID
127575
Comment

Shaun, don't troll my site for a fight. No one cares. We have better things to do.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T17:50:08-06:00
ID
127576
Comment

With all due respect GJM, unless personal bias creeps into the jurors decision, I would be more apt to believe the folks living next door, and someone who took pictures telling it like they are with their friends over a nervous Police Commander who cannot cite his own department regulations without peering over at his boss's legal team as if - help me! How can the jury ignore the pictures if they go from picture #36 where the house looked OK (though I guess they had begun 'working') to picture #41 where it is then shown torn up? The other beautiful thing about all this is even if Melton is found not guilty by the jury, the public is being allowed to watch the back and forth when the jury is not present. The public, who watched, will have the advantage and broader truth of the evening which will forever taint Melton. He is still radioactive no matter the outcome. He can continue to try to drive out the good people, and bolster the bad. But, he will never outlive this City or this City's patience. And, if those who are paying attention will just continue to do so, we will win in the end. This man will do something much more stupid. The IMS deal may be a bigger nail in the coffin then little old Ridgeway. Go ask Armstrong about bribes and contracts. He's not hard to find right now! You have to wonder if Melton's real family is estranged from him because he doesn't (and shouldn't) get the loyalty that he gets, and expects, from his merry band of thieves and the likes of Marcus Ward. It all seems so sad.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-04-24T18:02:38-06:00
ID
127577
Comment

And Mr., er, Mandela, our endorsement record, especially in Jackson, is very good, Melton notwithstanding. However, I would never endorse based on who I think is more likely to win. That's The Clarion-Ledger's style, not ours. We don't write anything based on sticking our finger in the wind.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T18:02:49-06:00
ID
127578
Comment

Curt, nice try. I figured Coxwell's obsession with us would draw y'all boyz out of the woodwork to do damage control. Right on sked. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T18:07:10-06:00
ID
127579
Comment

Personally, I thought the prosecution's witnesses did a damn good job. They seemed very credible, and not at all intimidated by the the defense team. They just seemed to want to tell the truth about what happened that night. I found them much more human and believable than Danks and Coxwell. I got the feeling that they saw those witnesses in the same light as Mandela. If I were on the jury, I'd definitely be thinking more highly of the witnesses, than the haughty white guys in suits.

Author
JAR
Date
2007-04-24T18:42:41-06:00
ID
127580
Comment

If Frank walks, this will only embolden him to do the clownish things that got him to where he is now. If you thought he was only going to "own this hospital" (CMMC), just wait.

Author
golden eagle '97
Date
2007-04-24T18:47:29-06:00
ID
127581
Comment

Golden, I wouldn't assume that Mr. Melton's legal woes are over if he is acquitted this week. If he serves out his term, I suspect he will continue to be embroiled in explaining his actions. At least that might keep him out of people's homes without a warrant and such. I'll be honest: I believe lives may well have been saved, perhaps Melton's, because McMillin, Peterson and Hood stepped up when they did. These cases stopped the flow of madness that he was inflicting on the city. These are hard cases, and tough politically, and the folks who brought them should be applauded for simply having the courage to take on such a mythological folk hero. Always remember two things: It ain't over 'til it's over. And: Do the right thing and wait.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T19:04:16-06:00
ID
127582
Comment

Golden, I wouldn't assume that Mr. Melton's legal woes are over if he is acquitted this week. If he serves out his term, I suspect he will continue to be embroiled in explaining his actions. At least that might keep him out of people's homes without a warrant and such. Well, Donna, I do hope and pray to God that you're right. I would've thought Jim Hood and heart surgery would've forced him to slow his role. I really am an optimistic person, but I get quite negative when it comes to Frank. For me to believe anything he says, I'd have to see it to believe it.

Author
golden eagle '97
Date
2007-04-24T19:50:46-06:00
ID
127583
Comment

Yeah it was Fish , but I think that Caligula named his own horse a counsel of Rome and Melton has certainly done a much better job of choosing his advisors more wisely than that.

Author
snowjob
Date
2007-04-24T20:00:15-06:00
ID
127584
Comment

Didn't the clarion-ledger endorse AL Gore in 2000, Donna?

Author
Denny Crain
Date
2007-04-24T20:12:16-06:00
ID
127585
Comment

Didn't the clarion-ledger endorse AL Gore in 2000, Donna? This link says they did, but they don't have a link to an article or a date.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-04-24T20:30:40-06:00
ID
127586
Comment

GJM, if you're bothered by testimony from drug addicts and the like, brace yourself for the defense testimony we're going to hear tomorrow. Tammy Callahan, for instance, is a recovering cocaine addict. In civil testimony she gave in October, she could not remember either the address or the color of the duplex during cross-examination. That doesn't mean she's a liar, but it might make you wrinkle up your nose, especially when Danks brings in the "informants" he promised today. Of course, there will also be a parade of law enforcement officers.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-04-24T20:42:06-06:00
ID
127587
Comment

Is it true that Kenneth Stokes may testify for the defense? I can't remember which news program I heard that on.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-04-24T20:47:33-06:00
ID
127588
Comment

Well I will have to check it out tommorrow, Brian. I am in trial up there starting tommorrow so whenever I get a break I'll see if I have time to watch some of Danks' & Coxwell's skilled lawyering and will look forward to their assured acquittal of Melton and/or hung jury, as I have said time and again on this blog.

Author
snowjob
Date
2007-04-24T20:58:15-06:00
ID
127589
Comment

I spent almost the entire day covering the trial, and I think that people in general are underestimating the effect of sitting in a courtroom. The public dispenses armchair justice--that is, the public catches bits of the news and debates their friends and enemies. I am not belittling that, because neither democracy nor journalism would work otherwise. Still, I think pretending that you are a juror and actually being one are vastly different. When you sit in the courtroom, with those golden imperial eagles, and the massive woodwork, and the flag, and the armed bailiffs, it makes a powerful impact. The judge can snap his fingers and actually arrest you! Also, everyone keeps talking to the jurors about their sacred oath, which must get to you after a while even if you're a cynical fan of Court TV. Finally, it's different to read about the testimony or catch snatches of it on TV. If you sat through all of it today, it became really, really clear that Melton et al. did it. It was perfectly clear that minors were recruited into the demolition. Even though that count is now dropped, it has to contribute to the "evil intent" the defense lawyers keep saying prosecutors will not prove. Basically, defense lawyers are going to argue "guilty with an explanation." I imagine that there will be compelling testimony about drugs tomorrow. The question is whether that testimony can ever supplant what the jury saw today, which is a whole bunch of witnesses, along with some photos, proving that the defendants did it. The question, defense lawyers are arguing, is what was in their hearts? If the jury remembers what they heard today, that's going to be a very tough sell.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-04-24T21:01:02-06:00
ID
127590
Comment

Please don't forget that alot of these Jurors think Melton is doing a great job & that will be in their hearts far & above whatever evidence the DAs present to them. It's the interesting concept of "jury nullification" and it actually happened the same way in the Beckwith trial. Since so much time had passed since the original trial alot of evidence was missing as to create "reasonable doubt" but the jurors knew in their hearts that Beckwith killed Medgar Evers (another Coxwell case incidentally) so they convicted him. The same ideal will hold true here, i.e. alot of the public loves Melton & will not convict him for activities "they" believe to be in the best interests of Jackson, whether they were or not is really irrellevant to actual outcome of this case.

Author
snowjob
Date
2007-04-24T21:12:33-06:00
ID
127591
Comment

see Emmitt Till

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-24T21:15:45-06:00
ID
127592
Comment

and Huey P Long, Adolph Hitler, Octavius, Tiberius, Robespierre, Barnett. Popularity does not mean something is right, as you well know. It is the fundamental principle of a Republic or Democracy governed by laws that popularity does not give someone the right to abuse others. All Melton had to do was set up undercover sting operations. I'm sure it wouldn't have been hard to catch them engaged in repeated drug activity. Then he could've torn the house down. If he was so proactive, he could've spoken to Ms. Sutton about her renter and Ms. Sutton would've been within her rights to evict him or warn him first, then evict him. I suspect that Ms Sutton probably would've kicked him out if the police had come and spoken to her about activities at that address. However, we will never know. Ask yourself this. If it was not Melton on trial, but a regular cop that did this with some accomplices that were not cops, would there be any real chance of his acquittal?

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-24T21:29:46-06:00
ID
127593
Comment

Of course not Fish, you are right about that one. But it IS Melton on trial and to some he is a beloved figure (as to some Adolf Hitler was, wrong as that was.). Thats why he will be acquitted.

Author
snowjob
Date
2007-04-24T21:35:47-06:00
ID
127594
Comment

If I'm the prosecution, that would be a point I would hammer on in closing. If it was not the mayor but a regular cop, how would you vote?

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-24T21:42:09-06:00
ID
127595
Comment

He will not be acquitted. Hung jury maybe, mistrial perhaps... but he will not be acquitted. Perhaps I'm too idealistic in my view that the law triumphs, but I have a feeling he won't be found not guilty. lc

Author
LawClerk
Date
2007-04-24T21:57:29-06:00
ID
127596
Comment

Yeah idealism is something that will pass with time, I can vouch for that one. But it may hang as well, but no way do they convict, its just not a realistic possibility.

Author
snowjob
Date
2007-04-24T22:02:04-06:00
ID
127597
Comment

Gaius, if I *had* any money, I would put some on this.

Author
LawClerk
Date
2007-04-24T22:26:32-06:00
ID
127598
Comment

I agree, the fix is in. Looking at that jury it is bound to hang. I hope they sit together for a good long while before they hang, because, I want them to feel a small amount of the discomfort they will foist off upon our fair city. I think a week of looking at each other is fair! (Wouldn't that drive Ole Webster crazy?) I don't like it, but Melton is teflon. Danno

Author
Danno
Date
2007-04-25T00:38:31-06:00
ID
127599
Comment

Didn't the clarion-ledger endorse AL Gore in 2000, Donna? Why, yes, they did, Denny. And you will recall in 2000, it was a very close race going into the election, and Gore actually got the most votes (and perhaps electoral votes). So that example doesn't exactly help you, does it? How about their endorsement of Bush in 2004—that one is a little more apropos for the sticking-your-finger-in-the-wind example. In fact, if you want help following this logic, a better example would be their endorsement of Ronnie Musgrove the last time over Barbour due to his stance on education. So, yes, there are exceptions—but not many, especially locally. Now, if y'all wouldn't mind, let's return this thread to the topic of the Melton trial. Start an endorsement thread in the forum if you want to discuss that, without a trolling undertone, of course.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-25T16:56:38-06:00

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