Suspect jailed for more than a year after delays in autopsy report slows prosecution

Published 11:20 am Friday, May 3, 2019

A delayed autopsy report from the state crime lab has put a hold on a March 21, 2018, murder case, prosecutors said.

Da’Larren White, 25, has been detained at the Adams County Sheriff’s Office with an $850,000 bond since March 22, 2018, for allegedly shooting and killing 27-year-old Rodrique Watson in the parking lot of Zipy gas station on Old Washington Road.

White had been scheduled for a hearing Wednesday morning.

However, without the evidence from the state crime lab, it was not feasible to proceed with Wednesday’s hearing, said Adams County District Attorney, Ronnie Harper.

Harper said the lag is a result of the crime lab being understaffed with a very short turnover period between employees combined with a heavy workload and a pay scale that is not on par with other parts of the nation.

“There has been a problem over the last couple of years with pretty much all of our cases with the crime lab,” Harper said. “The medical examiner’s office has had a pretty big problem with turnover and keeping their staff there, so their pretty understaffed most of the time. It has caused them to get backlogged pretty bad, so we’re going six months to a year, sometimes even longer, before we receive reports from them.”

Harper said White’s case had been ongoing for so long that White had to be indicted by a grand jury without an autopsy report.

The incident on March 21, 2018, reportedly involved four shooters, three of whom were arrested and the fourth was believed to be Watson.

The two other suspects, Keith Burns, 24, and Gregory Hammett, 25, both faced charges of tampering with evidence for allegedly removing Watson’s weapon from the scene of the incident.

White had been injured during the shooting and was treated at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson before he was arrested.

White’s case was postponed until Sept. 17 under the direction of Sixth District Circuit Court Judge, Lillie Blackmon-Sanders.