Grand jury issues murder indictments
By By Suzanne Monk / managing editor
August 23, 2003
A sudden upswing in violent deaths earlier this year in Meridian and Lauderdale County has resulted in murder and manslaughter indictments.
Defendants indicted in July by a Lauderdale County grand jury made their initial Circuit Court appearances Friday morning before Judge Larry Roberts.
Court officials released a list of defendants who had been arraigned later in the day.
Among the more than 300 indictments, four involved alleged homicide victims who died within a four-week period in February and March.
Monday, Feb. 25
Willie Mae Currie returned from a weekend visit out of town to discover the bodies of her brothers, James Tingle and John Crump, in their home on 19th Street.
Both had been shot in the head and their silver Lincoln Town Car was missing. Coroner Marl Cobler said it appeared the brothers died about 10 a.m. that morning.
The car was found abandoned on J.D. McWilliams Road off Old Highway 80 East on Tuesday.
On Thursday, 18-year-old Jeffery Lamount Fairley was picked up for questioning. Meridian police officers charged him with two counts of capital murder and one count of motor vehicle theft. He was indicted for the same charges.
Fairley has been held without bond in the Lauderdale County jail since his arrest, although he attempted to escape in early March by climbing through the ceiling in a bathroom.
Wednesday, March 12
Meridian police responding to the scene of a disturbance found 32-year-old Tiffany Russell in the driveway of a house on 28th Avenue.
George Russell, her brother, was there too. He had been shot in the head and died later at a local hospital.
Officers described Tiffany Russell as "remorseful," and said witness accounts of an argument between brother and sister before the shooting supported a charge of manslaughter not murder.
Tiffany Russell was indicted for manslaughter and is currently free on $25,000 bond.
Saturday, March 15
The body of 23-year-old William Gill was discovered by the side of the road near the intersection of Highway 496 and Highway 19 South. The cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds from a small-caliber handgun.
On Sunday, a tip from a citizen led Lauderdale County sheriff's deputies to Gill's missing vehicle, a GMC Yukon. The same day, investigators picked up 18-year-old Jermaine Ramsey and 16-year-old Glen Stevens for questioning.
The teen-age defendants were charged the following Tuesday Ramsey for capital murder and robbery, and Stevens as an accessory after the fact on both charges.
Ramsey was indicted on the same charges and is being held without bond at the Lauderdale County jail.
But, the grand jury did not indict Stevens as an accessory after the fact. Instead, the 18-member panel indicted Stevens on a single count of robbery. He is in custody at the county jail.
Saturday, March 22
Meridian police said an altercation was going on in the early afternoon at Western Gardens between two men in their 20s LeFrance Chandler and Billy Ray Burage Jr.
When officers arrived on the scene, they found Chandler on the ground, shot once in the chest. He died later that day at a local hospital.
Burage surrendered to police.
The grand jury indicted him for murder and he is in custody at the Lauderdale County jail.
After a long
In early November 2002, the body of 5-year-old Charles Hemming-Hopkins was discovered in his home, Zyrtec pills strewn around him on the bed. Among the mourners were the child's mother, Cynthia Hopkins, and her boyfriend, 35-year-old Joseph Eugene Osborne.
During a subsequent autopsy, however, no pills or pill residue were found in the little boy's stomach. Deputy Coroner Clayton Cobler said his death was consistent with suffocation.
A five-month criminal investigation began. Before it was over, the child's body had been exhumed and an investigator with the state attorney general's office had come to Meridian to help local officers.
On April 17, Meridian police charged Osborne with murder and a July grand jury indicted him for the same charge, alleging that he held his hand over the child's nose and mouth until he died.
Osborne is in custody at the Lauderdale County jail. While bail was set at $250,000 on the murder charge, he still can't bond out because of a probation violation.
The victim's aunt, Dianne Hopkins, represented the family at Osborne's initial bail hearing in April.
Diane Hopkins said she intends to follow the case every step of the way.