Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Rest of the Story: Magnolia Edition

Magnolia Mayor Anthony Witherspoon caused a bit of a controversy recently when he allegedly screamed at and shoved a Magnolia Gazette reporter.  Earlier post.  This is not the first time the Mayor has been accused of having an anger problem.  The reporter should be thankful the Mayor only shoved him as Witherspoon was convicted of manslaughter after he shot his first cousin in the back 27 years ago.

The Magnolia Mayor readily admits to his manslaughter conviction and uses it to fight to gain voting rights for convicted felons. The Jackson Free Press referred to his conviction in one article:

Anthony Witherspoon calls it "divine intervention." Others might call it luck. The second-term mayor of Magnolia, Miss., learned quickly how state laws can disenfranchise and significantly alter a person's life, all depending on what crimes they have committed.

Witherspoon, who is black, was convicted of manslaughter in 1992 after shooting a man "in self-defense" after having six or seven rounds fired at him, he says today. The Mississippi Supreme Court rejected two lower court rulings that he was guilty of murder, and ultimately a jury convicted him of manslaughter, and he drew a 20-year prison sentence. Witherspoon stayed out of prison for four years on an appeal bond and then served six years in state prison. Article.
That is the story Witherspoon likes to tell reporters as he pals around with NAACP Chief Derrick Johnson.  However, the articles leave out a few important facts that question whether manslaughter was the proper verdict.

The McComb Enterprise-Journal reported on April 23, 1992 that 22 year-old Witherspoon shot his first cousin, Trennis Daniels, in the back and in the wrist.  The two cousins got into a fight.  The newspaper reported Witherspoon allegedly "went home and got a handgun."  Daniels allegedly fired back at Witherspoon before succumbing to his injuries.

The grand jury indicted Witherspoon for murder.

Witnesses testified the two men and others were drinking beer in the middle of the afternoon.  The cousins got into a fight that was pretty nasty.  Daniels bit Witherspoon's ear.   Daniels pulled a gun on Witherspoon.  Daniels lowered the gun and his cousin left.  However, Witherspoon was not done for the day but returned thirty minutes later with his father, a popular preacher in the area and a former Magnolia alderman.

Witnesses said Witherspoon brandished a .32 pistol and shot Daniels in the wrist.  Daniels ran but stumbled.  Witherspoon shot him in the back at close range and then ran.  Daniels chased him and fired several rounds that missed.  He collapsed and died in the emergency room.  Witherspoon's attorney, Wayne Dowdy, pointed out several conflicts in witness accounts.  However, a pathologist testified Daniels was shot in the back and wrist while a Mississippi Crime Lab witness showed Daniel's shirt with a hole in the back.  Dowdy claimed Daniels was beating Witherspoon and reaching for his 9mm pistol when he was shot.

Circuit Judge Keith Starrett presided over the trial.  He is now a federal judge. 

November 4, 1992

Witherspoon's father denied warning his son not to shoot his cousin although a policeman said the father told him at the scene he warned his son.  Witherspoon the Younger took the stand and said he came back to the scene of the fight to get someone to take him to the hospital.  He said Daniels jumped up when he saw him as his handgun fell off his lap. Daniels allegedly reached for the pistol.  Witherspoon said he reached into his car, grabbed his gun, and fired at Daniels.    Prosecutors pointed out the wound in the back and said it was not a "defensive wound."

Dowdy said Witherspoon had every right to fire at Daniels. 

The jury deliberated 75 minutes before convicting Witherspoon of manslaughter, rejecting the murder charge.

November 5, 1992

Witherspoon was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison but five years was suspended.  The Mississippi Court of Appeals gave the convict a brief glimmer of hope when it ruled in 1998 after Judge Starrett improperly denied the testimony of a witness produced by Witherspoon after his trial. 

Witherspoon claimed a female witness would testify another man fired the fatal round at Daniels.  Judge Starrett said at trial that the witness "has a history of being in court and has testified in several other criminal trials on behalf of other defendants."  Witherspoon never tried to use her testimony at his first trial. She claimed the defense did not know of her testimony because she fled the state after the shooting.  The Court ordered Judge Starrett to consider her testimony in deciding whether to grant a new trial.  

Judge Starrett heard the new testimony but denied the motion for a new trial.  The Court of Appeals upheld his decision.   Judge Tyree Irving issued the opinion for a unanimous court.   He pointed out her testimony was directly contradicted by numerous witnesses.

Witherspoon served five years of his sentence before MDOC granted him earned supervised release.  His probation ended in 2007.  Mississippi exempts manslaughter from a list of felonies that disqualifies one from serving as a public official. 


Anonymous said...

Jackson may be poorly run but at least they don’t have a murder as mayor.

Anonymous said...

Word on the street from those who've had to deal with this Mayor, is not only is he a murderer but a thief and crook as well. Stole work product from companies then enriched his friends with it for those projects. He had Dowdy as his city attorney then too. Crooks everywhere.

Anonymous said...

So this NAACP Chief Derrick Johnson best friend The Mayor a gang shooter?

Anonymous said...

3:13 and 3:31: this man is not a "murderer!" He was only convicted of manslaughter. And a first offense at that. Knowing this, I would feel so much better if I lived in Magnolia, knowing that the mayor isn't a murderer, but just a manslaughterer.

Anonymous said...

" Witnesses testified the two men and others were drinking beer in the middle of the afternoon. The cousins got into a fight that was pretty nasty. Daniels bit Witherspoon's ear.

Over the years . . . I've drank mid afternoon beer with my cousins too.

We even had a few disagreements.

But never did we shoot each other . . . much less bite each other's ears.

Anonymous said...

SO what code statue in the Mississippi Law allow

Anonymous said...

Please tell what Mississippi Law allow a convicted felon to run for office ?

Anonymous said...

Article 4, Section 4 of the Mississippi Constitution: (1) No person shall be eligible to a seat in either House of the Legislature, or to any office of profit or trust, who shall have been convicted of bribery, perjury, or other infamous crime; and any person who shall have been convicted of giving or offering, directly, or indirectly, any bribe to procure his election or appointment, and any person who shall give or offer any bribe to procure the election or appointment of any person to office, shall, on conviction thereof, be disqualified from holding any office of profit or trust under the laws of this state.

Miss. Code Ann. Section 1-3-19: The term “infamous crime,” when used in any statute, shall mean offenses punished with death or confinement in the penitentiary.

Anonymous said...

The other cousin's probably helped get him elected.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone qualified to run for Mayor of Magnolia that is not a felon?

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time, Magnolia was the best kept secret in Pike County.

Not anymore.

Summit is now the only municipality in Pike County that shows promise.

Moreover, McComb has sadly disintegrated into a small Jackson.

Anonymous said...

And his wife is a state senator - sounds to me like she needs to ditch him.

Anonymous said...

How is manslaughter not an "infamous" crime? Might other shenanigans be at work here? Do those shenanigans extend to the state house?

Anonymous said...

Is this the Mississippi Criminal Justice Reform Model for our future ? If so , more detail work is necessary. Second chance is needed but starting off as a Mayor of a municipal is another.

Anonymous said...

Summit, MS is one election away from the outhouse. Pike County is being destroyed by idiot democratic leaders. Gang violence is on the rise. Somebody really needs to research the Mccomb Police Dept destruction. Defund the police started in Mccomb long before it went national. There were only 30% of the staff recently. 4 police chiefs in 2 years.

Anonymous said...

Is this Mayor is glorifying a socialist Regime towards the end of this video?

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

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Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS