Greenville, MS— Judson Cooper, 20, of Hollandale, was sentenced to prison for three (3) counts of Aggravated DUI following his guilty pleas on Monday, District Attorney Dewayne Richardson announced today.

In the early morning hours of January 27, 2019, troopers of the Mississippi Highway Patrol responded to a two-vehicle crash site on Highway 61 just 1 mile south of Highway 438 in Hollandale following a head-on collision in the northbound lane of Highway 61 wherein a pick-up truck struck a hatchback sedan. Troopers and other first responders arrived on scene where they found the driver, Reela McKnight, and rear driver-side passenger, Joann Williams, of the impacted hatchback sedan deceased, and the front passenger, Caroline Nelson, suffering life-threatening injuries. Nelson was airlifted for emergency medical treatment and would ultimately survive the crash.

A motor vehicle collision investigation was initiated by the Mississippi Highway Patrol and included a reconstruction in which it was determined that Cooper was traveling southbound on Highway 61 and veered across the center line into the northbound lane where his truck collided head-on with the sedan driven by McKnight. McKnight and Williams were killed on impact. Cooper was also treated for his injuries and the investigation uncovered that his BAC was at least .114% at the time of the crash. He was later indicted for three (3) counts of Aggravated DUI.

Cooper appeared in the Circuit Court of Washington County on Monday where he entered his pleas of guilty to all three counts. Following a sentencing hearing, where the court heard testimony of witnesses and remarks from counsel, Circuit Court Judge Richard Smith sentenced him to twenty (20) years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with twelve (12) of those years to serve, and the remaining eight (8) years suspended so long as he successfully complies with the requirements of his probationary status following his release.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kaylon McCou who noted the difficult nature of this type of case: “In every case involving death, there is almost always tragedy on both sides, and even more so where, as here, the death resulted not from an intentionally malicious act, but an egregiously irresponsible decision with grave and fatal consequences. There is no doubt that this young man is regretful and remorseful, but justice requires accountability. We are proud to have advocated on behalf of the victims and their families to seek that justice.”

The Office of the District Attorney is thankful for the trust and patience of the victims’ families and the investigative efforts of the Mississippi Highway Patrol C.R.A.S.H. Team.

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Our Mission

The mission of the District Attorney’s Office for the Fourth Circuit Court, under the direction of
W. Dewayne Richardson, is to seek justice in order to maintain an environment of safety, security and lawful behavior for the citizens of the Fourth District.

The Office of the District Attorney uses lawful and reasonable methods to successfully identify and prosecute those who commit felony crimes. When a crime occurs, the Office of the District Attorney diligently pursues the indictment and conviction of those responsible, while adhering to all rights of the Victim, ensuring the victim is being provided all direct services applicable, and acknowledging all constitutional safeguards for the accused.

The District Attorney’s Office for the Fourth
District’s goal is to work with law enforcement and the judiciary to punish those who break our laws with adequate punishment. Every representative of the Office of the District Attorney pledges their commitment and full support to the protection of all citizens within the Fourth Circuit Court District.


Greenville Office
P.O. Box 426
Greenville MS 38702
[P] 662.378.2105
[F] 662.332.4665

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Indianola, MS 38751
[P] 662.887.4306
[F] 662.887.6275

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P.O. Box 253
Greenwood, MS 38935
[P] 662.453.1089
[F] 662.451.7291

Judicial Process

Citizen's Involvement in the criminal justice system typically begins with them being a victim, witness, or defendant of a crime. Arrests are made generally by a judge-issued warrant or by a police officer observing a crime in process. Law enforcement may also arrest someone if it has probable cause to believe the person committed a criminal offense. When individuals are arrested they are routinely advised of their Miranda Rights upon arrest, advising them that they have the right to remain silent and that anything they say will be used against them in court. On being questioned, defendants have the right to have their attorney present or to have one appointed if they are indigent.

Felony defendants appear at a first appearance and have the charges reviewed. A judge will inquire if the defendant has an attorney. If low income, the defendant may qualify for a court-appointed lawyer. No plea is entered at this time unless the defendant wishes to plead guilty or waives indictment and has an attorney present. All felony cases are presented to a grand jury in the county that the crime was committed. In the State of Mississippi, only a grand jury has the authority to indict an individual for a felony offense and require them to stand trial for the charges alleged in an affidavit and indictment.

If an indictment is issued, the defendant is bound over to stand trial or enter a guilty plea to the crimes alleged. When a criminal trial occurs all 12 jurors must find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Sentences are decided by Circuit Court Judges in all criminal matters. In most cases a recommendation is made regarding imprisonment, probation, fines and restitution.


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• Washington County

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• Leflore County