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Defendants plead guilty in shootings

By By Suzanne Monk/The Meridian Star
Dec. 15, 2001
Joseph J. Ramsey, a 24-year-old man who surrendered to Meridian police after the shooting death of Murray Battle, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Lauderdale County Circuit Court.
The shooting occurred March 4, on a dirt road off 10th Avenue near Northwood Country Club.
Four days later, Ramsey led police investigators to the shallow grave site in Causeyville where he buried Battle's body. He was charged with murder, and later indicted for murder by a July grand jury.
District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell said Friday evidence discovered at the crime scene played a role in his recommendation that Ramsey be allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter.
Circuit Judge Robert Bailey sentenced Ramsey to 20 years in prison, with 18 years suspended and two years to serve. He also ordered the defendant to pay $5,000 in restitution to the victim's family.
Two other people were arrested as accessories after the fact of murder in Battle's death. The indictment against Marquis S. Adams was dismissed. Kelvin D. Ephrim pleaded guilty and admitted he helped to bury the body; he was sentenced to five years in prison, with five years suspended and five years probation.
Other murder indictments
Marcus "Marco" Earl, 19, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the shooting death of Antonio Grant. Earl was originally arrested and indicted on a charge of murder.
Lt. Wade Johnson of the Meridian Police Department said the fatal shooting happened April 6, about noon, at the intersection of 32nd Avenue and 13th Street.
Grant was transported to Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center, where he died later in the day.
Earl's sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 4. He has entered an "open plea," which means the district attorney has not made a sentencing recommendation.
Johnathan Ruffin, who pleaded guilty Nov. 13 to manslaughter in the shooting death of Tyrone Moffett, will be sentenced Tuesday in Lauderdale County Circuit Court.
Ruffin was originally arrested and indicted for capital murder, but Assistant District Attorney Dan Angero said last month that the alleged criminal nature of the gathering during which Moffett was killed was a mitigating factor during plea negotiations.
Like Earl, Ruffin has also entered an "open plea."
A co-defendant in the Moffett shooting, Morris Alando Griggs, was sentenced in November to 15 years in prison, with nine years suspended and six to serve. Griggs was ordered to pay $4,083 in restitution to the victim's family.
Suzanne Monk is managing editor of The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3229, or e-mail her at