Sunday, October 11, 2009

Two Good Articles in The JFP

Yes, that is a serious headline. The Jackson Free Press published a couple of good articles recently. The first one is about how in Mississippi, suspects have no right to examine police reports or other evidence against them in certain circumstances:
"The state court system in Mississippi recognizes a defendant's right to see evidence that might prove his innocence, but that assurance does not trickle down to the lowest courts in the state: municipal and county justice courts....
Because the state's rule for discovery does not apply to municipal and justice courts, judges at that level are free to refuse defendants' requests for evidence against them. While some jurisdictions generally grant discovery requests, others regularly deny them. In Rankin County Justice Court and Flowood Municipal Court, prosecutors refuse to share police reports and other potential discovery material as a rule...."

Apparently some prosecutors are not familiar with the concept of due process, having the right to face your accusers, and the right to examine the evidence against you. One prosecutor, Rankin County Prosecutor Richard Wilson, justified this denial of due process to defendants by stating:
"Even though I'm full time as county prosecutor, we're going to bust over 11,000 cases in justice court this year," Wilson said. "Can you imagine trying to respond to discovery requests for all that? The economics just prohibit it." Article

Someone should inform Mr. Wilson someone's guilt or innocence shouldn't be based on dollars and cents (at least in theory). The vast majority of crimes seen in these courts are probably traffic violations. One can just imagine the hordes of speeders suddenly demanding access to their police reports (which are probably just the ticket itself anyway) if they were made available for discovery. If someone is actually accused of a misdemeanor such as Assault or Simple Domestic Violence, then that person should have the right to demand a copy of the police report.

The criminal justice system is not a conviction factory but a means of determining guilt or innocence. Justice Court often is the only time those who cannot afford to appeal their cases have. ("Sorry sir, you should plead guilty or fight it yourself, my retainer is ten times what the fine will be.") Yes, it's a pain at times to provide the accused with a copy of the evidence, but the pain is even greater to someone who is in jail because the justice system refused to give him the documents he needed to prove his innocence. The refusal of prosecutors to give the accused a copy of the evidence against them is a violation of the Constitution and our fundamental rights as Americans to confront our accusers and examine the evidence against us. The Founding Fathers revered by so many conservatives paid a price in blood so we could have these rights. Unfortunately, too many think it helps the criminals or is just a liberal issue when it is actually something that protects all of us. The Mississippi Supreme Court should reform the system so that the accused can use discovery in the lower courts and ensure such reforms don't hurt prosecutors as well.

The JFP also published a story on the Heather Spencer Case as well as a link to some police reports it obtained on its website. (These are different than the ones posted on this website earlier this year. See sidebar on lower right-hand side of page for posts on the Heather Spencer case.). Copy of police reports, article. The article gives a good history of the case and shows how Heather was betrayed by the criminal justice system and those around her. It excuses Jim Hood and ignores the fact that Ed Peters was Ms. Bell's attorney, but discloses some unreported evidence such as a quote from a security officer who supposedly saw Ms. Spencer in the front yard of the Trawick home at 1:30 AM, ninety minutes before her time of death. While the Editor, Donna Ladd, makes some extremely ignorant and tasteless comments about the story on the website, it is a good article and keeps the spotlight on a tragedy that should be remembered by all.

Note: I was aware of the security officer's claim but was never able to contact him and didn't want to print uncorroborated information. (It was never mentioned in the police reports nor confirmed with anyone.) In this commentator's opinion, Robbie Bell's behavior was more egregious and criminally suspect when her son left the home for over an hour (to kidnap Ms. Spencer's roommate) and Ms. Bell did not call the police. Having said that, it was a judgement call not to mention the security officer's claim on this website. Kudos to the JFP for tracking him down and obtaining a quote from him.


Anonymous said...

If correct, and I'm not convinced it is, that means Heather was killed while Robbie was home. Ladd tries to whitewash that fact with some mindless claim that she (Robbie) must have been drugged out -- or something to that effect. AND that means that George was anally violating Heather at the same time. Where was Robbie, hanging out in the garage having a smoke?

Anonymous said...

I really like the cover of the JFP this week. We see Heather at lunch. We see Heather while we are pumping gas. We see Heather at Kroger. It is so in your face. We will never forget her. She did not die in vain.

Anonymous said...

Thank you JFP and especially JJ/Kingfish for the articles and support regarding Heather, her family and friends and Heather's T.R.E.E.

Although Heather's cause of death is mentioned several times by the authorities in the reports and the JFP, there is no mention of her being strangled.

Please refer to Hood's 02-04-08 press release regarding Bell's guilty plea.

"strangled her until she no longer breathed"

Makes you wonder if the AG's office even read the reports...

Remember, CONway does not prosecute "family" (still out fishing, Ed Peters?) Good luck on the Governor's race. A lot of people used to have some (not much)respect for you.

At least I can read. Perhaps one should take a closer look at some of Hood's other press releases.

Anonymous said...

Gag. Ladd is an ass. The autopsy report is circumstantial evidence? Robbie was sleeping while Georgie raped and murdered? Better yet, a hostage???? Please. And the whitewashing of Hood's disdain for anything resembling justice to a 'family member' is laughable....the mere fact that they didn't even mention PETERS, Speetjeens, Delaughter, etc just means they aren't interested in telling the whole story.

Other than that, good job on keeping Heather's name in the news. And, here's hoping George gets skull f***ed daily while on vacay in prison.

Anonymous said...

Ladd is a fraud. You don't go out of your way to leave that over-the-top commentary without a reason. Suggesting some best possible explanatory scenario that Mother Bell must have been either whacked out on sleeping pills or tied up while her son was killing and savaging Heather's defenseless body literally feet away in that 2000 sq ft house is a highly dubious piece of unsubstantiated conjecture to enter into the public discussion. Ladd doth protest too much. How odd that she didn't contact Mother Bell for comment. Or did she?

Anonymous said...



Ladd is suspiciously biased in her reporting, but has done a decent job of covering this un-necessary death. Most if not all the credit should be given to Kingfish. The system is broken and the wheels were clearly greased from day one.

Robbie should have been convicted of harboring a fugitive, at the very least. Also, the "rehab" released a fugitive back to his home state?
Robbie will burn in hell (and others) for the political favors that were abused/(used). Domestic violence is a very serious crisis, but many special steps and actions were taken to favor the Bells. The events of this case is truly a disgrace and an insult to the Mississippi justice system. This disaster is proof that the GOB system still exists, in the worst of all crimes.

Why else would the mayor, danks, et al. show up to the stand off, even before the discovery of Heather's body (not the usual protocol)?

When and why was Det. Kent Daniels transferred so expeditiously, following this specific event?

Ladd, you've done a stand up job, but still do not have all of pieces to this repulsive puzzle.

Kingfish said...

Here are the comments in question:

Absolutely, Rexxie. Ronni is preparing them now. She has a huge stack, and none are redacted. She needs to block some personal information before making them public. And as the daily editor, she is really busy half the day! But she'll get there soon. Maybe some will start going up by late today. We'll comment here when they are linked so people know.

Also, huge kudos to Ronni; she has been on the domestic-violence beat for us for years now. She was a vital part of the team that wrote the first big story about Heather (and Doris Shavers), in which we obtained and released the police reports from Heather's first beating -- showing that much of what was being said about it was B.S.

In order to not hurt the family as it was pursuing lawsuits and the like, we had to go somewhat dark on this story for a while, other than just putting out the basics of what was happening. (Media can really hurt victims if we're not careful and sensitive about what is reported.) But her friends and family were supportive of us now putting the whole story out there now so that it can be used to try to save other women.

One way to help is the Heathers Tree benefit at Hal & Mal's on Oct. 17 and the duathlon on Oct. 31. More info: We timed the story, in part, to help with these benefit actions.

May Heather rest in peace, and may we all be inspired by her story to do everything we can to fight domestic abuse.

posted by ladd on 10/08/09 at 01:57 PM

And I thought the coroner placed her time of death at an hour when R Bell was in the house.

posted by Reximus on 10/08/09 at 02:53 PM

Oh don't get me wrong, Rex: All indications are (even though it's circumstantial) that Robbie Bell was in the house when Heather was killed about 3 a.m. So I'm not saying she could not have *stopped* the attack; I have no idea what she was doing, and apparently neither can anyone else. That's a huge hole in the case for everyone who has touched it, it seems.

My point was that at least the coroner didn't say that Heather lived past the 3 a.m. attack; thus, it's not accurate to indicate that Bell could likely have *saved* her after the attack. We know that Robbie Bell was alone in the house with the body, though, at around 7 a.m., so even if she had been whacked out with sleeping pills or something during the attack and couldn't have heard such a vicious attack (no indication of that, either, just the best possible scenario one could come up with other than her being tied up), she was apparently loose and alone in the house with a dead body and blood everywhere after daylight when George brought Elizabeth there, and then called her voicemail and her attorney, but not the police. That part is just ... there are simply no words to describe it ... but there is no law that she violated based on the facts known. That is clearly an opening for stronger laws, although they would likely apply to other situations as well where the witness is more sympathetic. Thus, the problem.

But George did for sure violate some laws he wasn't pursued or arrested for the first time around, and that happens often. It is nothing new, or unusual, and people really need to pay attention to that part, too. I'm rather always amazed when the first response to this case, such as yours, is to talk about what the mother did. It was disgusting, but for God's sake look closely at what George Bell did, too. Not to mention the system that let him get away with almost killing her so he could come back and finish the job.

posted by ladd on 10/08/09 at 03:16 PM

Anonymous said...

Ladd is a patsy.

Hookah said...

In order to not hurt the family as it was pursuing lawsuits and the like, we had to go somewhat dark on this story for a while, other than just putting out the basics of what was happening. (Media can really hurt victims if we're not careful and sensitive about what is reported.)

All the more reason for Ladd and the JFP crew to crown bell as "Most Intriguing"--HA to the HA!

The JFP has taken more heat over that one "BEST OF" than they are willing to admit or let the public know about. Any stories the JFP publishes about this event are just crude attempts by Ladd to somehow try and claim the moral high ground despite all of the hypocrisy.

Her comments sound like those of a pathological liar trying to 'get her story straight' in an effort to save face.

Anonymous said...

This is nothing more than Donna Ladd pimping Heather's death and the Heather's Tree event to make herself appear relevant. The supposed need to "go somewhat dark" is 100% absolute pure bullshit.

Kingfish said...

Switching topics, I did like the story about the police reports. Wish I'd thought of that one. Alot of times the main evidence in justice court cases is the police report as it contains the witness and police officer statements. I think it is morally and constitutionally wrong for prosecution to refuse to turn those over to the defendants. Keep in mind it doesn't take much to have someone arrested in MS. Just go down to the police station, write out and sign an affidavit on someone, then he is arrested. Yet if you want to conduct some discovery to protect yourself against false or harrassing charges, you are out of luck. Needs to change.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish have you seen this May 2008 statement from Col. John Hanson?

Not surprising that the JFP hasn't made it available online since their entire timeline hinges on it.

Anonymous said...

I am confused or at least behind on the 8 ball on this- why is Ladd so intent on covering for Bells' Mother?

Anonymous said...

DonnerKay: "But her friends and family were supportive of us now putting the whole story out there now ..."

Has anybody seen a statement from the family and friends?

Me thinks DonnerKay is trying to make an evasive claim that the JFP silence was the direct result of a request by the family and friends to hold off on reporting the "whole story" before now?

I highly doubt that anyone made such a request.

Michael nailed it above:

Her comments sound like those of a pathological liar trying to 'get her story straight' in an effort to save face.

Kingfish said...

Trust me, the family and friends have been supportive of this site's efforts as well.

As for the media, WLBT has been VERY supportive. They sent a camera and reporter to EVERY Heather's Tree event here in Jackson. They haven't let this story fall off the map. I can personally say that the staff at that station wants to see justice done and has made a serious effort to cover this story in depth. For her to say that crap just shows how clueless she is and stuck on herself.

Monica Hernandez REALLY cared about this story and busted her ass working on it. She spent hours of her own damn time, off the damn clock, reading the police reports and writing up her story. Alot of reporters here in town would've said it was outside of work so they weren't doing it. She did all the production work herself. Yet for someone who is not a journalist and never worked at a newspaper comes along and makes those statements is simply beneath contempt. Monica Hernandez practiced some damn good journalism and you would never know she'd only been a reporter for only 18 months. Then Dennis Smith, their news director, took it upon himself to skewer Jim Hood in an editorial for his statements on this case. Compare that to Ladd's treatment of Hood.

Anonymous said...


Agree with Keep in mind it doesn't take much to have someone arrested in MS. Just go down to the police station, write out and sign an affidavit on someone, then he is arrested. Yet if you want to conduct some discovery to protect yourself against false or harrassing charges, you are out of luck. Needs to change.

Question is what is the remedy once one has fought off the harassment? Do those who falsely accused or harassed simply get away with it? What is to prevent this abuse?

Kingfish said...

You can sue in civil court or hopefully get a prosecution for filing false charges. Doesn't happen much though.

Anonymous said...

OK. I got another question, lets say an attorney was involved and there was a red dot sticker that was placed on the Complaint - Read Instructions Carefully Before Completing...Should I think that this is an attempt (like insurance companies) to foster fear?

Let me think; Red means stop. I await your response. I'm just responding to your Trollfest '09 comments.

Anonymous said...

If someone can commit murder in my house in this State and I don't have to report it, then THAT law needs to be changed so that if you don't report at your first available opportunity, you are an accessory after the fact.

Her FIRST available opportunity was when the III went to kidnapp.

Scientology rehab? Scientologists who don't believe in psychiatry? AND, he didn't stay the full time. Are you KIDDING ME? The Bells aren't Scientologists!

I feel like I'm in Wonderland.

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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.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

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.

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