Updated: Accused killer cop makes first court appearance; possible bail angers victim’s mother

Published 2:40 pm Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The mother of a Mississippi murder victim is protesting a prosecutor’s discussion of possible bail for the police officer charged with killing her daughter.

Oxford police officer Matthew Kinne was arrested Monday and charged with murder in the killing of 32-year-old Dominque Clayton, who was found dead Sunday. Clayton’s relatives say the mother of four was romantically involved with Kinne.

Bessie Clayton shouted her complaints to reporters after a Wednesday court hearing for Kinne in Oxford. She said no black person would be considered for bail for such a crime, but prosecutors and a judge are willing to consider bail for the white man accused of killing her daughter, who was black.

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A prosecutor told Lafayette County Circuit Judge Andrew Howorth he thinks prosecutors and defense lawyers can agree on “reasonable” bail for Kinne. The officer remains jailed in neighboring Panola County for now and a decision on bail may not come until next week.

Bessie Clayton also complained that Howorth laughed during the hearing. Clayton’s relatives began voicing displeasure as they left Oxford’s historic courthouse.

“They are allowing the killer to decide his bond!” Bessie Clayton told reporters outside the courtroom after the hearing. “That man came through the bushes while he was on duty and walked in behind my daughter’s home, put a bullet in the back of her … head and executed her. And they laughed. They should discuss with him what his bond should be? We need help in Oxford! We need intervention in Oxford!”

Interim Oxford police Chief Jeff McCutcheon told reporters that he opposes bail. He said Kinne “needs to be in jail.”

“We are with the Clayton family,” McCutcheon said. “We don’t support a bond. Matthew Kinne committed murder and we don’t want him out.”

Prosecutors didn’t immediately return phone calls and emails seeking comment on what bail should be for Kinne.

Shyjuan Clayton, the victim’s sister, told WHBQ-TV Tuesday that Kinne was having an illicit affair with Dominique Clayton.

Relatives told WHBQ-TV that Dominque Clayton’s dead body was found by her 8-year-old son Sunday after children returned home from spending time with an uncle.

Shyjuan Clayton told reporters Tuesday that she wanted answers following Kinne’s arrest.

“We don’t want anybody to cover it up,” she said. “We want the truth out. We want justice for my sister.”

McCutcheon said Tuesday that Kinne had been a police officer in the town that hosts the University of Mississippi for four years. Kinne was mainly known as a mounted patrol officer, one of several Oxford relies on to police its often-crowded and touristy town square from horseback.

McCutcheon said Tuesday that Kinne’s status as an officer would not shield him from consequences.

“We will not hide behind our badge,” McCutcheon said in a statement to reporters, declining questions.

Kinne was arrested Monday despite a Mississippi state law that says a judge must find probable cause to arrest a police officer accused of crimes while in the line of duty. Howorth said prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed to waive a hearing examining the probable cause issue Wednesday.

“The crime of murder is always going to fall outside the duties of a law enforcement officer,” Howorth said. “I cannot imagine when it would not fall outside the duties.”