Disputed Mississippi witness now faces own murder charges

AP News
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Posted: Apr 27, 2016 8:15 PM
Disputed Mississippi witness now faces own murder charges

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A man has been charged with murder in the shooting deaths of three people in a Mississippi county Wednesday, and authorities said the suspect is a onetime jailhouse informant whose testimony helped convict another man of four 1996 killings.

Odell Hallmon could eventually face trial in the same courthouse where he testified in five separate trials involving another man eventually convicted of the shooting deaths at a north Mississippi furniture store.

The 40-year-old is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of aggravated assault and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm after three separate shootings before dawn Wednesday in Montgomery County, about 90 miles north of the state capital of Jackson.

A judge on Wednesday afternoon ordered Hallmon jailed without bond.

Hallmon is charged with the shooting deaths of his former girlfriend, 32-year-old Marquita Hill, and the girlfriend's mother, 59-year-old Carolyn Ann Sanders, in the town of Kilmichael in the county. He's also charged with shooting and killing 32-year-old Kenneth C. Loggins in Winona, 11 miles away.

The assault charge stems from the shooting of a fourth man, Marcus Brown, who was wounded in Kilmichael, authorities said.

Hallmon does not yet have a lawyer.

Montgomery County Sheriff Bubba Nix told The Associated Press that authorities don't yet know why the people were shot or even in what order. The first call came in after 2 a.m., and by 4 a.m. Hallmon had turned himself in.

Nix said that Hallmon fathered a 12-year-old son with Hill.

"He was living with her until she put him out," the sheriff said, adding Hill broke up with Hallmon in recent weeks. The sheriff said the son was at home with his mother and grandmother Wednesday, but escaped harm. Nix said the son is staying with relatives in Kilmichael, a town of 700.

Nix said all of the dead were shot multiple times and the bodies were taken for autopsies.

"It's a tragic thing," said Kilmichael Mayor Bobby Howell, who said Sanders was well-liked and had helped decorate the town square for Christmas last year.

Ty Young told The Associated Press that Brown, his cousin, was shot multiple times at another house in Kilmichael and was alert but in critical condition at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Young said that Brown and Hallmon are friends, which is why Brown's girlfriend let him in the house in the middle of the night. Young said he doesn't know why his cousin was shot.

Hallmon has been convicted of at least three previous felonies, most recently completing a 10-year-prison stint for cocaine possession, according to Mississippi Department of Corrections spokeswoman Grace Fisher. He had been released on five years' probation in August.

Hallmon and his sister were both witnesses against Curtis Giovanni Flowers, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010 for the killings of four people at the Tardy Furniture Store in 1996. Flowers remains imprisoned at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

Three of Flowers' trials ended in convictions that were overturned on appeal. Two other trials end in hung juries before he was convicted in the sixth trial. The case drew wide attention for the number of times a person had been tried in a single case. The credibility of the witnesses, including Hallmon, also was questioned.

Hallmon testified in Flowers' defense in an early trial. He later claimed he lied that time, testifying in the last four trials that Flowers, while a cellmate at Parchman in 1997, had confessed to him the killings.

There was no apparent connection between Wednesday's shootings and Hallmon's testimony in the furniture store deaths.

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