Wilkerson

Jamie Wilkerson, left, and attorney Leslie Roussell  (Photo by Mark Thornton)

 

Accused burglar released after indictment not served in 6-1/2 years

A Madison County woman who was planning to go on a cruise instead found out that she needed to take a trip to court in Jones County first.

Jamie Wilkerson, 39, was indicted for burglary of a non-dwelling back in February 2013. But she was never served with the indictment — even while in state custody for almost four years — so her case was dismissed after Judge Dal Williamson ruled that her constitutional right to a speedy trial had been violated. She is the 23rd accused felon whose case has been dismissed this year because an indictment wasn’t served in a timely manner.

It was only when Wilkerson went to get a passport two weeks ago to go on a cruise with family members that she learned of the charge against her, attorney Leslie Roussell told Williamson in Jones County Circuit Court on Thursday afternoon.

“She’s still never been served,” Roussell said. “She just became aware of the charges two weeks ago.”

Wilkerson served time on another charge out of Clarke County, he said. She was in full-time custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections from April 2013 until December 2014 and she was under MDOC supervision through December 2016.

“Every time MDOC releases someone, they do a background check … that implies to me that the Jones County Sheriff’s Department didn’t bother to enter her on NCIC,” Roussell said, referring to the National Crime Information Center database.

The court file showed no attempt to serve her with the indictment, Williamson said. 

Besides the delay of 6-1/2 years — higher courts have ruled that a delay of eight months or more between the charge and the service of the indictment is prejudicial to defendants — Wilkerson’s defense would also be hampered by the fact that her co-defendant, Ashley Mack Lee, died of an overdose in February 2017.

“He would’ve been instrumental in proving her innocence,” Roussell said, adding that some officers who were involved in the case have since moved out of state. “Testimony to support her side of the story is now unavailable.”

Wilkerson took the witness stand and testified that she had lived at the same address in Canton — about one-third of a mile from the Madison County Jail — for two years and was at another address in Canton before that. She also stayed in a halfway house in Madison after being released from MDOC custody and was in regular contact with her probation officer.

“It simply appears the Jones County Sheriff’s Department never made any effort to serve the indictment,” Roussell wrote in his motion.

District Attorney Tony Buckley didn’t make an argument, noting that it “would’ve been dismissed anyway … based on fairness and the law” because Mack had already paid court costs and restitution to the victim and the case had been dismissed.

Lee and Wilkerson broke into a vacant trailer on County Barn Road and stole costume jewelry that belonged to Tina Perna, according to court records.

Williamson said he had no choice but to dismiss the case because her constitutional right to a speedy trial had been violated.

He also made a statement that was in response to some criticism he’s heard about the speedy-trial dismissals.

“There’s been some question as to why the court would bring up these old cases,” Williamson said. “The court doesn’t bring them up. It’s not the court’s doing. Lawyer’s with knowledge of the law file the motions.”

Another motion hearing on a JCSD case followed, and Eric Gooden — who had been charged with possession of a firearm and felony fleeing — had his charge reduced to a misdemeanor, failure to yield to blue lights. That’s because no dash-cam video was available and the wrong gun was sent to the crime lab for testing, according to the report that was sent back, Buckley said.

Gooden, who was represented by attorney Corey Gibson, paid court costs of $417.50 in the circuit clerk’s office and will have to pay a fine in justice court.

Buckley said that the chase went for only about 700 yards near the old Calhoun Elementary School and the gun he had on him was a .25-caliber Raven, but the report that was returned was for a .22-caliber Smith and Wesson.

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