Friday, August 4, 2017

Leader-Call: DUI? What DUI?

This article is reprinted with permission of the Laurel Leader-Call.

The deputy who arrested Greg Burroughs for drunk driving with his 8-year-old daughter in the vehicle last summer did show up for court when he was supposed to, Sheriff Alex Hodge said.

Hodge cited records that then-Deputy Josh Welch, who is now a Laurel police officer, was in Jones County Justice Court, but it was Burroughs who was a no-show. That delayed the court hearing again, and then all five charges against Burroughs were inexplicably disposed of by Judge Howell Beech.

The sheriff’s call was in response to Saturday’s column by Leader-Call publisher Jim Cegielski, who questioned Welch’s absence in that case. Welch was leaving the JCSD and going to the LPD at the time, but even so, he went to court on his own time, Hodge said.

But when Burroughs didn’t go to court, the case was reset and it never was rescheduled.

According to court records obtained by the Leader-Call, the judgment was made on Jan. 12 and simply states: “Lack of prosecution on probable cause, not guilty per Judge Beech” for the DUI and child endangerment. On the charges of resisting arrest, disturbance of family and disorderly conduct, the judgment says, “Lack of prosecution, dism(issed) per Judge Beech.”

Welch was the deputy of record on the latter three charges and Deputy Brennon Chancellor, a DUI specialist who Hodge said also showed up for court, was the arresting officer on the DUI and child endangerment charges.

According to incident reports that were provided by the JCSD, Burroughs was arrested in July 2016 after Welch was dispatched to Northgate Apartments off University Avenue for a report of a disturbance.

Details of that arrest were reported in the LL-C in mid-June, two weeks after Burroughs was questioned in the shooting death of his then-girlfriend Katherine Sinclair, 23, of Pachuta. She was found with a single gunshot to the head in the garage of his home in Windermere, a gated community in Laurel. He reported that she shot herself, but the District Attorney’s Office and LPD are waiting on a state pathologist’s autopsy report to determine the cause of death.

Justice court cases are typically resolved in a matter of a few weeks. Burroughs’ case took more than six months after his attorney, Brad Thompson, twice asked for continuances. Welch was supposed to be in Florida for K9 officer training in January, which was listed on the court’s calendar, sources have said.

When contacted by phone Wednesday, Beech said he was out of town and couldn’t remember the details of why the cases weren’t prosecuted, but he said he would find out.

“I’ll get back with you the first of next week,” he said.

In the incident last July, Welch reported that Burroughs had “a very strong smell of an intoxicating beverage coming from his breath and person.” The deputy told Burroughs to place his hands on the patrol car while he questioned the girlfriend, whose name was not listed in the report but is known to be an employee of his family’s company. She said that Burroughs had accused her of cheating on him and that she just wanted to leave.

Meanwhile, Welch had to tell Burroughs to put his hands back on the car. When asked how he got to the apartments, Burroughs first said that a friend had dropped him off. Welch offered Burroughs a portable breath test, which he didn’t complete the first time and he refused to try again.

When Welch told him to put his hands behind his back, Burroughs raised his left hand, “attempting to make Welch let go of his arm,” according to the report. Welch then threatened to tase Burroughs, so he put his hands behind his back, “but gave Welch trouble while being handcuffed by grabbing his wrist with the other hand.”

After Burroughs was handcuffed, he asked what he was going to do with his daughter. That’s when Burroughs admitted to driving to the apartments, according to the report. Welch then transported Burroughs to his vehicle and found his 8-year-old daughter in the passenger’s seat asleep. “The door was unlocked and the vehicle was running in a high-crime area,” according to the report, and two beer bottles were in the center console.

Burroughs asked Welch to call the girl’s mother and two more deputies transported the youngster to meet her near the Forrest County line on Interstate 59.

Deputy Chancellor then came to the scene to investigate Burroughs for possible drunk driving. In his report, he wrote that Burroughs “appeared to be intoxicated” with “slurred speech, blood-shot eyes” and he admitted to drinking alcoholic beverages earlier. Burroughs refused to take a breath test, which is an automatic violation, according to state law.

Burroughs admitted to driving his Burroughs Diesel company car, a white Toyota, to the location, according to Chancellor’s report. He was charged with DUI (refusal to take test) and “given the separate charge of child endangerment due to the fact his 8-year-old daughter was in the vehicle while he was operating it under the influence.”

The girl’s mother has asked for full custody of their daughter, but Burroughs is allowed supervised visitation time with her, as long as his parents, Wayne and Susie Burroughs, are also with her. The custody case is being heard by special chancery judge Larry Buffington. Chancellor Frank McKenzie recused himself at the request of the girl’s mother’s attorney because of his close ties to the Burroughs family.

That case is set to be heard by Buffington in December.

Earlier post
Laurel newspaper accuses Sandersons of retaliation 


Anonymous said...

Uh oh. This will come back and bite Beech. You can't dispose of DUI like you could in the past. Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance will be looking into this.

Anonymous said...

Larry Buffington? Why haven't the Sups put that idiot out to pasture?

Anonymous said...

In Judge Beechs Justice Court, Justice with an eye wink!!!

Anonymous said...

Maybe he had mouthwash in the car? That will get you out of a DUIIn Scott Co.

Anonymous said...

Generally, before Judicial Performance can begin an investigation, someone must file a complaint.

Madison Rulz said...

I can't figure out of this makes me feel better or worse about the situation. I better stay in Madison today.

Anonymous said...

Cegielski at the LL-C should move all their stories on this Burroughs murder matter out from behind their paywall or PDF them so that KF can make them available to a much wider audience. As KF has proven so many times in the past, a wider set of eyes reviewing the information can often produce actual actionable tips to police and/or other important information.

Anonymous said...

I'l bet dem young StateTroopers will give Judge Beech hell in court, those shigity's will arrest their mama! They could care less about influence and money.

Justice Court Beech, you ought to be ashamed or your self! Oh I forgot, the under the table payoff is better!!!

A Judge the sells his soul and winks at Justice.

Anonymous said...

Someone should talk to the County Attorney, Wayne Thompson. A JP who dismisses a case, without a hearing, and not having the County Attorney involved is in automatic trouble with the Judicial Comm.

Kingfish said...

Newspaper should have copied the court file or abstracts and published them in the story online.

Anonymous said...

Cegielski at the LL-C should move all their stories on this Burroughs murder matter out from behind their paywall or PDF them so that KF can make them available to a much wider audience.

Agreed. Not only would this provide greater exposure; it would also show that Cegielski's motive is justice, not money... if indeed that is true.

Anonymous said...

Dismissed for lack of prosecution ? Sounds like the prosecution was ready to proceed at the 3 trial settings, but the defendant failed to appear the first time and asked for continuances the other two times. Sounds more like a failure to defend, not a failure to prosecute. The judge should have found him guilty the first time he failed to appear.

Anonymous said...

The paper has done nothing but drop innuendo. They should start being investigative journalists before the avenues to stop injustice are closed.

Anonymous said...

Dismissed a DUI without prosecution? Hell, this is more the norm than the exception. Many DUI attorneys have perfected this process - delay, reschedule, and watch it disappear. I know three folks, good friends all, that have benefited from this process here in the metro area (1 in each of the three county jurisdictions.) Granted, it depends on the judge you are before, and it appears that it might depend on the attorney hired for the defense. Worst case I saw was one where it was pled down to a 'public drunk' misdemeanor and small fine; the other two vanished in mid-air.

And none had the benefit of what the editor of the LLC seems to make a difference; none were of the silver spoon set. Just average middle age men.

Anonymous said...

3:31 pm, "vanished in mid-air" Your insurance agent and attorney don't vanish. You will feel their bills for a long time. Please stay home if you drink.

Anonymous said...

Was this the same girlfriend who later ended up naked and dead at his house? There should be national media attention to this story. The only places who have mentioned it are the Laurel newspaper and JJ.

Anonymous said...

Shades of Heather Spencer's murder with various Burroughs surrogates acting similarly to Robbie Bell.

Anonymous said...

5:02, didn't say anything about the attorneys vanishing in mid-air. Or thin-air. In fact, referred to the fact that the attorneys were a big part of making this happen. Yes, there is generally a substantial fee involved.

Insurance? Not if it was your first. And it disappears through a non-prosecution. At least, it can be avoided with the right movement. But even if not, that wasn't the point of the comment. Read it again - the LLC questions that Burroughs got off DUI because he was rich and powerful because the JCJ let it drop. My point was JCJ and Municipal Court Judges do this in many venues even for us normal folks.

And - it wasn't a statement for or against drinking. But thanks for your MADD advertisement.

Anonymous said...

"Your insurance agent and attorney don't vanish. You will feel their bills for a long time."

Not true. Your premiums will not be jacked or cancelled if your issue does not result in an officially recorded and adjudicated DUI. In other words, it will not be on your record.

Anonymous said...

Cegelski has another editorial in todays LLC edition. In the same edition Mark Thornton
updated future child custody proceedings between Burroughs and his ex wife. Clarion Ledger also has article in todays paper.

Anonymous said...

You can get out of a DUI if you have the money and know who to give it to.
In Hinds county the cost is a lot cheaper than in Rankin county.
I got three DUIs in one year. Finally got tired of paying the money but it is better than going to jail.

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