Willie Jerome Manning has won the right to searches for evidence relating to his 1992 case involving two students. On March 6, 2014 the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court sent out seven orders, requiring ‘diligent’ searches to be made for all evidence related to the homicides of Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller, and to the burglary of a car belonging to Jon Wise. The searches are to be conducted in the presence of up to two representatives of counsel for the State, and, simultaneously, up to two representatives of Willie’s counsel.
The orders have been sent to the Oktibbeha County Circuit Clerk, the Starkville Police Department, the Office of the District Attorney, District Sixteen, , the Mississippi State University Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Mississippi Crime Lab and the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department.
Those responsible for the searches are obliged to protect the evidence from damage e.g. by avoiding skin contact. They are told to itemize and store the articles found, or attest that nothing was found during their search. Representatives of both sides will be allowed to photograph items found.
The dates and times for the searches are to be decided by mutual consent of all involved, but all searches must be completed within 60 days of the delivery of the orders.
There has also been a development in Willie’s 1993 case of two elderly ladies (the Brookville Garden case). On March 10, 2014 the State asked the Mississippi Supreme Court for an extension of 30 days in which to respond to Willie’s appeal, which was submitted on December 12, 2013. The State’s response to this appeal was due on February 6, 2014. The State explains that the deadline was missed because of ‘unintentional oversight’. It assures the Court that the extension is being sought not as to delay proceedings, but ‘in order to properly serve the citizens of the State of Mississippi’.