Trio of Mississippi murder suspects get combined $4 million in bond

Published 7:25 am Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A municipal judge set bond for $2 million Tuesday for an 18-year-old charged with capital murder in the shooting death of Zaria A. Newton because he considers the teenager a flight risk. The other two men charged in Newton’s murder received bonds of $1 million each because they both surrendered to police.

Brookhaven Judge Brad Boerner chose a higher bond for Adrian Smith, of Brookhaven, because he was arrested at the Evers International Airport by the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority July 22.

He set bond for Jatavious Berry, 19, of Brookhaven, at $1 million. Justin Anderson, 24, of Natchez, received the same bond amount. Berry surrendered to Brookhaven police July 21. Anderson surrendered to deputies at the Adams County Sheriff’s Office July 22.

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Boerner presided over each case separately, reading the same charge against each man — capital murder for killing Newton while engaged in a felony. The men allegedly were burglarizing the house on Mason Road that Newton shared with her boyfriend, Javion Richardson, when the couple came home and confronted the intruders. Newton was shot and died later that night at King’s Daughters Medical Center.

Each man entered the city courtroom, which is inside the Lincoln County Justice Court building, wearing orange jail clothes and his wrists cuffed at his waist. Each also wore ankle chains. Since they were transported from out-of-county jails, Berry and Anderson wore armored vests as well.

Boerner determined bond for each man. They had been held since their arrests with no bond set.

“Bond has nothing to do with guilt or innocence,” he told Smith. “It has everything to do with the risk of flight and the propensity to commit a crime while out on bond. It also has to do with the charge pending. The state has given us a range to set these bonds and the felony murder range is high.”

Brookhaven Police Capt. Clint Earls suggested Smith could be a flight risk.

“Mr. Smith was actually picked up by Jackson International Airport,” he said.

Boerner agreed.

“Mr. Smith, something you need to know, something I want your family to know, a few things. I like everyone to have a bond. I also like to have a bond that is appropriate. I’m going to set your bond at $2 million,” he said.

Boerner asked Smith if he had an attorney. Smith looked to the back of the room at his parents.

“I’m not sure,” he said.

Boerner quickly quizzed Smith about his ability to hire an attorney. Smith said he worked part-time at Krystal and does not own property or a vehicle. Boerner appointed public defender Jason Barrett to represent Smith.

Each hearing took about five minutes. After Smith returned to the jail, Berry came in with a noticeable limp. Berry is being held at the Lawrence County Jail.

City prosecutor Cheli Durr did not object to a lesser bond amount for Berry since he surrendered to police.

“That goes a long way. I’m going to set your bond at $1 million. Do you have an attorney?” Boerner asked Berry, who looked to the back of his room at his mother.

Boerner posed the question to Berry’s mother, who said they had not hired anyone.

Since Boerner determined Berry was not employed and owned no property or vehicle, he appointed public defender Carlisle Henderson to represent him.

Anderson, who is being held in the Pike County Jail, was the most vocal, making statements to the judge and answering questions. His family, who lives in Natchez, was not present.

Durr did not object to a lesser bond since Anderson surrendered to police. She said he had a prior issue with law enforcement, but was being cooperative.

“I’m not a flight risk, sir,” Anderson said. He offered to wear an ankle bracelet so he could be monitored by police.

Boerner set Anderson’s bond at $1 million and determined the defendant qualified for a public defender. He appointed Larry Baker to be Anderson’s attorney.

Anderson was acquitted by a Lincoln County jury in May for first-degree murder in the shooting death of Billy Ray Thomas Jr. after 40 minutes of deliberations in a three-day trial. Thomas was killed in November 2017 as he was leaving the Oasis Club on South First Street. The jury also came back with a verdict of not guilty for the aggravated assault charge against Anderson for the alleged shooting of Joshua Thomas, who was standing in front of his cousin as they exited the club that night.

The bonds will be reviewed at the preliminary hearings, which will be set after each man meets with his designated attorney.

A fourth suspect, Shawan Allen, 20, of Brookhaven, was killed in a shootout with law officers the afternoon of July 22 in the Beauregard community of Copiah County, just north of Wesson.

Deputies learned July 22 that Allen was hiding in a trailer on Bahala Road off Hwy. 51, Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones said. As officers entered the trailer, Allen started firing at them, Jones said in a statement on social media. Multiple officers returned fire, he said.

A Copiah County deputy was shot in the back but was saved by his armored vest.