Mississippi judge finds woman guilty of trespassing on land for controversial proposed oilfield landfill owned by county supervisor

Published 3:54 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2024

A Mississippi judge found a woman guilty of trespassing on the property of a controversial proposed oilfield landfill owned by a county supervisor.

Millicent Graning, of Natchez, was found guilty of misdemeanor trespassing on Tuesday.

Graning was arrested on March 29 by the Adams County Sheriff’s Office after a warrant for her arrest was signed and issued by Arnold on March 13.

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Millicent GraningKevin Wilson filed an affidavit with Adams County Justice Court on Feb. 15, alleging Graning trespassed on his property at 19 Shieldsboro Lane in South Adams County.

Adams County Justice Court judges sent the issue to Amite County because of conflicts of interest.

Graning has attended several meetings of the Adams County Board of Supervisors and spoken against a proposed oilfield waste landfill. Wilson, who represents District 1 as a supervisor and who is president of the board of supervisors, owns about 400 acres of land on which the proposed landfill would be built if approved. He also is an owner of the company proposing to build and operate the landfill.

Shep Crawford, Wilkinson County prosecutor, prosecuted the case against Graning. He called Wilson to the stand as his only witness. Wilson testified Graning supplied the photos to the board of supervisors and invited others to go on to his property, which is posted against trespassing.

“Someone would have had to go on my land to take those pictures,” Wilson said. “They were all over my property.”

Wilson said he has more than $1 million in equipment on the property. He also said people hunt on his land and going onto the property could be dangerous for anyone trespassing on it.

“That’s the reason we are here. She invited others to go onto my property and take a look for themselves,” Wilson said.

Crawford said the state’s statute against trespassing also prohibits anyone from causing another person to trespass.

Graning was represented by Jackson attorney Madeleine Iles, who called no witnesses. In her cross-examination, Iles asked Wilson if he knew for certain that Graning took the photos. He responded that he did not, but that he knew who handed them out.

In her closing remarks, Graning said the burden of proof against Graning had not been met.

“We are here on the issue of trespassing. The issue before this court is if the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Millicent Graning herself trespassed on Mr. Wilson’s property,” Iles said. “We do not dispute that this is Mr. Wilson’s property. We don’t dispute that somebody took these pictures. But they have given no proof that these photos were taken by Mrs. Graning … As the court is well aware, the standard is proof beyond a reasonable doubt and doubt here is exponential. This is a massive leap.”

In rendering his guilty verdict, Arnold said Graning was “head over heels” involved with having the photos taken.

“Someone took these pictures. Ms. Graning has the pictures. She was into it head over heels. There’s no doubt in my mind. She knew what she was doing. She knew she had to get some pictures to present to the Board of Supervisors and the newspaper and she did whatever she needed to do to get the word out about this dump site,” Arnold said.

Arnold said he would convert the $500 bond Graning had posted to be her fine in this case, including court costs.

“Stay away from that property. Do not even get close to that property. That property belongs to this gentleman. He paid for it, and he has a right to say who goes onto this property and who does not,” Arnold said to Graning. “You cannot go and invite other people onto that property. You do not have the authority to invite them out there onto this gentleman’s land.”

Iles informed the judge she would be appealing the verdict on Graning’s behalf.

“We strongly disagree with the findings and we look forward to being back in court on appeal,” Iles said Tuesday afternoon.