Oktibbeha County Sheriff Dolph Bryan investigated both Willie Manning’s cases: in both cases he enlisted and managed state witnesses by unfair means.
1993 Jimmerson-Jordan case
Bryan, together with Starkville Police Captain David Lindley, asked Kevin Lucious to sign a false prepared statement saying that he had seen Willie entering the victims’ apartment. Lucious was told he would not be charged with capital murder for a case in Missouri if he cooperated. *
Bryan, with District Attorney Forrest Allgood, also intimidated Lucious’s then girlfriend, Likeesha Harris, by threatening to charge her and Lucious with the murders of Alberta Jordan and Emmoline Jimmerson if they did not cooperate. Believing she would otherwise be jailed and lose her child, Harris became a witness against Willie at his trial.
Both Lucious and Harris eventually recanted. On April 20, 2015, charges against Willie in this case were dropped.
1992 Steckler-Miller case
Bryan targeted Paula Hathorn, Willie’s then girlfriend (whom, at Willie’s trial, he admitted** to be untrustworthy). From the outset he promised her a reward in return for helping him; he also told her that she should not worry about going to jail for the many fraudulent check charges that she had accumulated (estimated by her attorney to correspond to 8 – 10 years’ jail time plus some years’ probation). *** Bryan backed up these offers with intimidation, telling her she could be tried for accessory after the fact (of the two students’ murders), for which she might receive a ten-year prison sentence.****
By these methods Bryan persuaded Hathorn to help identify stolen items, to talk many times to Willie on the phone with the (unsuccessful) aim of extracting a confession, and to testify at Willie’s trial.
Bryan fulfilled his promises to Hathorn: she was given a huge reward and was scarcely punished for her bad check charges. The jury was unaware of the extent of these favors.†
In both cases a combination of favors and intimidation were used to procure testimony. The implications of this worrying pattern constitute but one of the disturbing features of Willie’s remaining case.
We trust it is not long before Willie is granted a new trial.
* See State of Mississippi v. Willie Jerome Manning, Order of Nolle Prosequi, in the Circuit Court of Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, April 20, 2015, Print
** See Willie Jerome Manning v. State of Mississippi, Motion for Leave to File Successive Petition for Post-Conviction Relief including DNA Testing and other Forensic Analysis, filed March 22, 2013. Page 10
***State of Mississippi, County of Lowndes, Affidavit of Paula Renee Hathorn, Exhibit 29 in Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, filed in the Circuit Court for Oktibbeha County. Filed October 8, 2001. Pages 333 to 335 of PDF. State of Mississippi Judiciary. Web. June 29, 2015.
**** Willie Jerome Manning v. State of Mississippi, No. 2001-0144-CV, Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, filed in the Circuit Court for Oktibbeha County. Filed October 8, 2001. Page 48 (page 56 of PDF). State of Mississippi Judiciary. Web. June 29, 2015.
†Information about Hathorn is taken from Willie Jerome Manning v. State of Mississippi, No. 2001-0144-CV, Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, filed in the Circuit Court for Oktibbeha County. Filed October 8, 2001. Pages 42 – 52, and pages 63 – 64 (pages 50 – 60 and pages 71 – 72 of PDF). State of Mississippi Judiciary. Web. June 29, 2015.