Melton: ‘We Tore That Shit Up'; Prosecution Rests | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Melton: ‘We Tore That Shit Up'; Prosecution Rests

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Mayor Frank Melton, pictured here in 2006, may have bypassed Council and brought in his own debris crew from Louisiana.

JFP Melton Blog/Archive and Trial Tweets here

FEDERAL COURTHOUSE—The prosecution in U.S. v. Melton started Day 4 of testimony in downtown Jackson today by calling Joe Lewis, who is with the city's Community Improvement Division and is over code enforcement for the city of Jackson. Lewis testified that the city had 69 homes demolished in Jackson in 2006, the year that Mayor Frank Melton and his bodyguards allegedly destroyed a duplex at 1305 Ridgeway St. without a warrant. Lewis said that he has no files or case number for the duplex.

Cynthia Stewart, the attorney for bodyguard Michael Recio, did not cross-examine Lewis. Melton's attorney John Reeves got Lewis to say today that he had had no meetings with Melton before the duplex incident; he had come into the position Aug. 21. However, Lewis said, the process was the same before and after he took the job.

Reeves asked Lewis if the demolition process only applied to abandoned properties, meaning that the policy might not apply to the occupied duplex Melton allegedly destroyed. "No, sir, not exactly," Lewis answered. Abandoned homes often have vagrants living in them. Reeves than asked again if the official demolition process only applied to "abandoned" structures, but Lewis stood firm. "The process we present before Council is for structures, period!"

After Lewis left the stand, both sides agreed to stipulate to what the next witness would present: The government's paralegal planned to testify that she searched Jackson City Council minutes and found no mention of 1305 Ridgeway St. and that there were demolition proceedings for other properties. She would also testify that Melton approved the meetings, but she wasn't sure which meetings he actually attended.

Following a long lunch, court re-convened at 2 p.m. First, the government called Jerry Cain, director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality's Office of Pollution Control, to testify about the Congo Street house burnings the mayor had ordered just prior to the duplex attack in August 2006. Cain testified that he called Melton the second day of the burnings to tell him it was against the law to burn them. "He became abusive, threatening," Cain said of Melton. "He tried to bully me to give him approval to burn the houses."

After Cain, the prosecution called Andrew Hasbun, a former WLBT reporter who heard Melton confess to the duplex demolition while off-camera. When he asked Melton about the rumors about the duplex on Sept. 1—the Jackson Free Press broke the story that afternoon; WLBT had a report later that evening—Melton told him, "I don't know anything about that." But on Sept. 2, he told Hasbun, "We did it. We tore that #### up." Melton made that statement off camera standing in front of his driveway at 2 Carter's Grove in North Jackson.

In the courtroom, attorneys also discussed the whereabouts of potential witness Christopher Walker, which are apparently unknown. Attorneys for Recio filed for a court order yesterday to get him to testify and believed he was in Oklahoma City. However, attorneys announced at the end of today's testimony that he is, apparently, not in Oklahoma City. The judge's assistant is trying to track his whereabouts.

At about 3:30 p.m., the prosecution rested. The judge excused the jury until 10 a.m. Tuesday, the day after Presidents' Day. He said he has a "substantial amount of legal work" with attorneys to do between now and then before he can take the defense's opening statements.

This post will be updated with minute-by-minute coverage from inside the Melton courtroom throughout the day.

Previous Comments

ID
143536
Comment

Frank Melton thought that these people was his supporters and friends. My Goodness he gave them jobs and let them do whatever they wanted. Michael Taylor who should have been in school was not even enrolled during this incident testified Pop's was drunk. Marcus Wright testified Melton was drunk and he knew thathe was doing something illegal. Peter Teeuwissen advised Melton of the law even before he took office. Tyrone Lewis was lied to about th events that happen on Ridgeway Street. Joe Lewis, Melton friend covers his own butt and testified that the structure on Ridgeway St. was not scheduled for demolition. These are some of the same people he hired and promoted. All of them showing how they used him and are now making a fool out of him. I wonder what Shirene Anderson will testify infavor of Melton or for the Government. I persnally told Melton that this would happen but instead of listening to me, he hung me out to dry as he did so many others that supported him. I would like to know if the Government will seek indictments from other appointees such as Sarah O'Reilly Evans and Vernon Hughes that was on the scene on Congo Street when Melton illegally burned the houses down and Hughes as a sworn polce officer and arson investigator supported this illegal act by the Mayor. I guess it was worth it Melton made him the Fire Chief! I really hav a problem with the fact that Frank Blunston and other City Council members knew about these incidents and ignore them when they knew citizens of Jackson Civil Right's were being violated. I guess people Civil Rights was not an issues that Frank Blunston and other Council Members supported and protected. Melton was used by the same people that played to his ego and he thought had his back. What a sad joke!!

Author
Tony Davis
Date
2009-02-12T11:58:39-06:00
ID
143540
Comment

Has anything been said or done yet about Melton's bond revocation?

Author
golden eagle
Date
2009-02-12T14:46:39-06:00
ID
143541
Comment

The comparison between the state and federal trials is inevitable, with many characterizing the first as having been a kangaroo court. It would be such compelling reading to know Judge Joe Webster's thoughts on the current trial rulings versus those he issued during the trial over which he presided. Does he now realize how severely he constrained the prosecution by limiting the types of evidence that could be introduced? Or do judges ever even think like that?

Author
chaffeur
Date
2009-02-12T14:52:02-06:00
ID
143544
Comment

I don't think that Joe Lewis "sold out" Mayor Melton. He was under oath, and even if he had been dishonest enough to lie on Melton's behalf, it would have been easy to catch him in the lie. The plain truth of the matter is that the duplex on Ridgeway was not up for demolition, and Melton has no one to blame for his current predicament but himself. Remember that he was offered a plea deal more than a year ago and could have likely avoided a federal trial in exchange for his resignation. But pride prevented him from making such a deal. That said, many people around Melton have used him.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2009-02-12T15:23:15-06:00
ID
143545
Comment

Brian, I guess you are right these people are only telling the truth. The point that I was trying to make is that when it come down to telling the truth or lying for someone in court these people were not going to lie to protect him. With that said, the issue is there are other people who have been involved in illegal activity and it's time to clean this mess up in Jackson. Look at Frank Blunston who is also a close friend of Ed Peters. Is there a possiblity that Blunston and Melton have comitted some other illegal acts? I hope someone look into this possiblity. At least I can say one thing, Tyrone Lewis and Joe Lewis just stated the facts and they were trueful.

Author
Tony Davis
Date
2009-02-12T16:01:01-06:00
ID
143546
Comment

No need for the City to burn those houses down. The vagrants are doing a fine job of that without any assistance from the City.

Author
Jennifer2
Date
2009-02-12T16:05:20-06:00
ID
143547
Comment

Funny. This is the top headline, and the subhead underneath, right now on The Clarion-Ledger's front page: Prosecution rests in Jackson mayor trial Prosecutors should wrap up their case against Mayor Frank Melton and his former bodyguard by the end of the day Friday. Which is it? (The first.)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-02-12T16:21:26-06:00
ID
143551
Comment

Is Bracy Coleman the father-in-law of Recio?

Author
Razor
Date
2009-02-12T18:55:04-06:00
ID
143554
Comment

The Clarion-Ledger continues their endless crusade to set new lows in journalism. Whether they're torturing the English language or mangling their web site, you can always count on Goliath. Tony, my hope is that if Mr. Melton is found guilty and sentenced to a long prison sentence, it may open up the whole cesspool of what happened in the '90s with the youth detention center. Ed Peters is disbarred, and Frank Melton may be headed for federal prison. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2009-02-12T23:36:01-06:00
ID
143558
Comment

And Brian, thank you for the role you played in trying to get Jackson to face that many of its "heroes" deserved serious scrutiny—from Melton to Peters to DeLaughter. We were tragically right about them. As for The Clarion-Ledger, I view that joke of a paper as an un-indicted co-conspirator in all of this. They were in a position to alert the public about so much of this mess for years, but they refused to. Now, they are in a death spiral as a result, and so worse of a paper than even when you were still here.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-02-13T08:38:11-06:00
ID
143561
Comment

Anyone see the AOL black voice coverage of this story? Interesting how other states view this when they don't know the entire situation. As if Mississippi needed one more thing to be scrutnized about.

Author
classy
Date
2009-02-13T10:26:25-06:00
ID
143605
Comment

I have only been following this trial on the JFP blogs and not commenting till now. What an absolute mess. It is a wonder that anything has gotten done in Jackson while Melton has been enthroned. Please let this end well for you guys. Please.

Author
atlntaexile
Date
2009-02-15T17:33:32-06:00

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