Charges expected in beating at mall

By By Erin Hilsabeck / staff writer
July 14, 2004
One week ago, Ken Leach's brother Sammy was beaten in the parking lot of Bonita Lakes Mall.
Sammy Leach's injuries required neurosurgery, and he spent six nights in Meridian and Jackson hospitals a result of being beaten by a man carrying a baseball bat.
And still, no charges have been filed.
Leach said several witnesses saw the beating and there is no doubt about the identity of the attacker.
According to Ken Leach, Sammy was attacked after leaving Bonita Lakes Cinema. He was alone and noticed his truck had been "keyed" and the air let out of the right rear tire.
While he was figuring out what had happened to his truck, a man with a bat appeared, Ken said. Minutes later, a crowd began to gather, and the man fled the scene before police arrived.
Sammy's skull was fractured. He had emergency surgery that night in Meridian, and was examined by a neurologist in Jackson the next day.
The Meridian Police Department has released little information about Sammy Leach's beating because no charges have been filed, said Detective Dean Harper, a police spokesman.
But what Ken Leach doesn't understand is why the victim and not the police has to file charges.
In Meridian, criminal charges are usually determined on a case-by-case basis, said District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell. While declining to comment on the specifics of this situation, Mitchell explained how the process works.
In cases like this, officers may not charge anyone without talking to the victim.
For now, Sammy Leach plans to use a lawyer to file an aggravated assault charge. He says he was released from the hospital on Monday, but has not yet been interviewed by police.
The legal process would have been easier, Ken Leach said, if the police had pressed charges in his brother's beating.

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