Yoder arrested

Attorney George "Dow" Yoder III is led into Jones County Justice Court on Wednesday. 

(Photo by Mark Thornton)

Former special assistant prosecutor charged with burglary

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The term “criminal lawyer” took on a different meaning with an arrest the Jones County Sheriff’s Department made on Monday afternoon.

George “Dow” Yoder III, 49, of Canton — a former state and federal prosecutor who has worked as a defense attorney in several high-profile cases in Jones County — is behind bars facing a felony charge.

He was booked into the Jones County Adult Detention Center charged with burglary of a dwelling after being caught in a home on Rocky Creek Cove, just outside of Ellisville, Sgt. J.D. Carter of the JCSD said.

Yoder was in the living room of the residence when the home owner confronted him and told him to leave, according to the report. Yoder then went outside and walked around the shed and the home owner, who had already called law enforcement, told Yoder to get off the property. Deputies arrested Yoder nearby a short time later.

“He didn’t steal anything,” Carter said, “but it’s not known what he would have done if he hadn’t been confronted.” 

The suspect was not making sense with his explanations of why he was there, a source close to the case said, but there was no evidence he was intoxicated.

“I have no idea what I’ve been accused of,” Yoder said Wednesday at his initial appearance in Jones County Justice Court. “I’ve been unable to make bond.”

Judge David Lyons responded, “That’s because I hadn’t set bond yet.”

Lyons set Yoder’s bond at $5,000. Yoder waived the reading of the indictment and the reading of the ways to make bond, saying, “I understand my rights.”

When the judge asked if he had any questions, Yoder said, “I’m not sure I got all of the questions. I‘m unsure of how I can communicate while I’m in the custody of the Jones County Sheriff’s Department,” saying that his constitutional right was being denied.

He went on to say that “no burglary occurred” and that “no criminal charges are being pursued” by the home owner. Yoder told the judge that the resident worked with his aunt for 30 years in Hattiesburg and “no crime occurred.”

That’s a matter that will have to be discussed in another setting, Lyons said, explaining that the purpose of the initial hearing was to tell Yoder what he was charged with and to set a bond. The defendant said he understood.

Yoder ignored questions from a reporter who was trying to get his side of the story as he was being escorted from the jail to the courtroom.

Yoder’s address is in Canton and his law practice is in Ridgeland, but he had reportedly been staying with family members near where he was arrested. A check of Yoder’s criminal history shows that he was arrested in Marion County on Dec. 27 for violation of a protective order.

Yoder was a candidate for the state Court of Appeals in 2016 after serving as ADA in Madison County and he was special assistant U.S. Attorney in the Jackson Division of the Southern District Court.

He represented James Barnett in a civil suit that was settled with the City of Laurel after two officers were accused of beating his client after a high-speed pursuit into Jasper County in 2018.

Yoder has also represented several defendants in criminal cases in Jones County Circuit Court in recent years.

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