Police consider homicide first

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
June 10, 2004
For investigators, every death is a potential homicide the death of a person at the hands of another.
Commonly, homicide is classified in three ways: Justifiable homicide, such as a police officer who kills an armed suspect who is shooting at the officer; excusable homicide, such as a person who kills an armed intruder in his or her home; and criminal homicide that includes murder, capital murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
So far this year, Meridian police have investigated five homicides.
Detective Dean Harper of the Meridian Police Department said usually, when a body is discovered, it is found by a civilian.
Once Metro Ambulance is called and a person is officially pronounced dead, the body is left on the scene while evidence is collected.
The Meridian Police Department has seven people in its Violent Crime Unit, on call 24 hours a day. Harper said the team is made up of three evidence technicians and four investigators.
Harper is a former evidence technician on the unit.
On the scene of a homicide, Harper said members of the unit discuss what they have found at the scene before starting their assigned duties. Technicians begin photographing and video taping the scene and preserving evidence. Investigators notify the victim's next of kin of the death, then start interviewing witnesses and other people about the death.
Evidence collected by area law enforcement agents is processed through the Mississippi State Crime Lab unit in Meridian, or forwarded to the main crime lab center in Jackson.
Taking evidence
Warren Strain, director of public affairs for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, said the state crime lab assists in all areas of forensic science from its offices in Jackson, Meridian, Batesville and Biloxi.
For example, crime lab specialists were called to the Lockheed Martin plant by the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department last July when an employee went on a shooting spree killing and wounding co-workers before taking his own life.
Maj. Ward Calhoun of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department said because the county usually has a low number of homicides annually, the department does not have a specialized team to respond to violent crimes.
Calhoun also called Lauderdale County Coroner Clayton Cobler a vital asset to the department and the state medical examiner's office, where autopsies are done. The county has had no homicides this year.
2004 Homicides
The Meridian Police Department has investigated five homicides this year:
Rose Mary Amerson, Jan. 4: Victim of a hit-and-run near Hawkins Crossing; case cleared, Jody Lindsey was charged with vehicular manslaughter
George Oliver Trotter, Feb. 16: Assaulted in the parking lot of Arby's Roast Beef Restaurant on North Frontage Road; case open, still under investigation
Alonzo Boyd, March 4: Shooting victim at a residence, 1418 29th Ave.; case cleared, Jimmy D. Grace was charged with manslaughter
John Anthony, May 25: Shooting victim in the parking lot of the X-Press Lane convenience store at Fifth Street and Highway 11 South; case cleared, the alleged shooter, Jerry W. Pearson, took his own life hours after the shooting.
Jeremy Scott, May 29: Shooting victim found shot
multiple times at a house in the 700 block of 53rd Avenue; case open, still under investigation

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