Details emerge in botched burglary turned murder as trio of suspects turned over to grand jury

Published 9:13 pm Wednesday, August 21, 2019

On the night his girlfriend was fatally wounded after she surprised intruders in their home, Javian “J.J.” Richardson hid in the bushes and played dead.

That’s according to testimony Brookhaven Police detective LaToya Beacham gave in municipal court Tuesday as she described the night 21-year-old Zaria A. Newton died at King’s Daughters Medical Center. The woman was shot to death July 20 during a burglary at her home on Mason Road.

Beacham signed the affidavits charging three men with capital murder in connection with Newton’s death and was the only officer called to the stand Tuesday. In unusual circumstances, she repeated her testimony three times — once for each of the preliminary hearings.

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After the end of each of the three separate preliminary hearings, City Judge Brad Boerner ruled there was probable cause for them to be bound over to the grand jury.

It will be up to the Lincoln County grand jury, which typically meets a few times each year, to decide if any or all of the trio should be indicted for Newton’s murder.

Boerner also kept the bonds the same for each defendant.

At initial appearances held July 30 for the three men, he set bond for $2 million for Adrian Smith, 18, of Brookhaven, because he considered him a flight risk. Smith was arrested at the Evers International Airport by the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority July 22.

He set bond that day at $1 million each for Justin Anderson, 24, of Natchez, and Jatavious Berry, 19, of Brookhaven, because they both surrendered to police. Berry turned himself in to Brookhaven police July 21. Anderson turned himself in to deputies at the Adams County Sheriff’s Office July 22 and was brought to the Brookhaven Police Department that night.