Greenville, MS—John Scates, Jr., 49, of Greenville was found Guilty of Aggravated Assault with a Firearm Enhancement in Washington County following a two-day jury trial, District Attorney Dewayne Richardson announced today.
The State presented evidence to the jury at the trial that during the early evening of October 19, 2017, the victim, Henry Bates traveled to Scates’ place of business, Greenville Imports, to finalize a business deal. Witnesses present testified that they heard the two arguing before gun shots rang out. A nearby associate of Bates testified that after he heard the shots, he looked up and could only see Scates standing so he ran over to where they were to find Bates lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to the middle of his lower back and Scates standing over him pointing a gun down at him. The Greenville Police Department was called and quickly arrived on scene along with emergency medical responders. Bates was taken to Delta Regional Medical Center and Scates was arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault.
Scates originally told officers that he thought he saw Bates reaching behind him to pull a weapon but did not see a gun. He later told the investigator that he feared for his life because he could not fight multiple people. When he decided to testify at trial, he added that the reason the wound was in the center of Bates’ back was because Bates was turned to the side attempting to draw his own firearm and that after the shooting, he observed Bates’ associate take the gun that Bates was attempting to pull away from the scene.
Nearly all testimony and evidence contradicted Scates’ versions of events. When cross-examined, he admitted that none of the responding officers reported that he told them anything about Bates having a gun and that he did not tell the lead investigator about any alleged gun during his official statement. He also admitted that, contrary to his statement that he was afraid to fight multiple people, Bates was the only person near him when he shot him. During closing arguments, attorneys for the State pointed out his false statements in addition to the undisputed facts that the dispatch report showed that the first officer on scene was already in the area when the call came out and made it on-scene almost immediately, that the recorded 911 calls proved that Bates’ associate never left his side after the shooting, and that given the location of the entry wound to Bates’ back, Scates’ claim about their positioning was unequivocally false.
Following closing arguments, and after just over an hour of deliberations, the jury announced its verdict convicting Scates of Aggravated Assault with a Firearm Enhancement in open court at the Washington County Convention Center at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Scates was taken into custody to await sentencing. He faces up to 25 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Kaylon McCou, Takiyah Perkins, and Austin Frye. McCou stated “Business disagreements over money are never a justification to shoot another human being and those who choose violence over peace will continue to be brought to justice.”
The Office of the District Attorney is thankful for the work of the Greenville Police Department, the service of the trial jury, and the willingness to serve for those who answered the call to jury service.