STEVENSON CONVICTED OF CAPITAL MURDER IN BILLY SMILEY SLAYING
Greenville, MS—Leonard Stevenson, Jr., 27, of Greenville was convicted of Capital Murder in Washington County following a three-day jury trial, District Attorney Dewayne Richardson announced today.
Testimony at the trial revealed that just after the 11 o’ clock hour on the night of February 6, 2017, family members of Billy Smiley, Sr. heard his faint cries for help just outside of their home in Greenville. Officers of the Greenville Police Department responded to the location to find a brutally stabbed and bleeding Smiley being comforted by family, friends, and neighbors. Fighting through the pain, Smiley maintained enough strength to inform bystanders that “Leonard” was the assailant and that he tried to rob Smiley. Investigators shifted to action, quickly identifying Leonard Stevenson, Jr. as the individual responsible after those who knew Smiley advised that a man named Leonard played in the band with Smiley and a neighbor observed a person fitting his description fleeing the scene. Stevenson was subsequently identified in a photo line-up by the witness.
A warrant for Stevenson was issued for the assault and robbery and investigators began to search for him. He was apprehended in Little Rock, Arkansas two days later where members of the Greenville and Leland Police Departments traveled to speak with him. On February 8, 2017, while Smiley fought for his life in the hospital, Stevenson confessed to the attack. In his statement, he told the investigators that he stabbed Smiley over money he felt he was owed after seeing Smiley given money following a band performance—though Stevenson admitted at trial that he did not know whether Smiley was actually being paid for that night’s performance. Smiley died on February 9th and Stevenson was later indicted for Capital Murder.
Following a series of pre-trial motions, Stevenson exercised his constitutional right to trial and was convicted by a jury of his peers on the afternoon of Wednesday, February 10, 2021—four years and one day after Smiley’s family was notified of his death. The Washington County jury announced its verdict convicting Stevenson of Capital Murder in open court at the Washington County Convention Center at 3:17 p.m. Stevenson was thereafter sentenced by Senior Circuit Judge Ashley Hines to Life Without Parole.
Assistant District Attorneys Kaylon McCou and Austin Frye, who represented the people of Washington County and the State, offered closing remarks before the jury in which they argued that a Capital Murder conviction was the only just outcome under the facts presented. And they are proud to have fought for justice on behalf of the Smiley family. “A conviction cannot bring back a loved one, but sometimes it is the closest we can get to true justice. It is my hope that the jury’s verdict provides Billy Smiley’s family some sense of peace and that now they can continue to heal and begin to turn the page on what must be an immensely painful chapter in their lives.” McCou added.
The Office of the District Attorney is deeply appreciative for the diligent work of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Greenville Police Department and the patience of the Smiley family and community while our office worked to pursue justice while protecting and preserving the rights of the accused.
Stevenson remains indicted for two separate Washington County homicides. He is presumed not guilty until proven guilty.
SCATES, JR. SENTENCED TO MAXIMUM
Greenville, MS—John Scates, Jr. was sentenced to Twenty-Five (25) years to serve in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections following a sentencing hearing for his conviction of Aggravated Assault with a Firearm Enhancement, District Attorney Dewayne Richardson announced […]... read more
WELLS SENTENCED TO TWENTY-FIVE YEARS IN PRISON
Greenville, MS—Geor’Barri Wells was sentenced to Twenty-Five (25) years to serve in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections stemming from his convictions for Second Degree Murder and Aggravated Assault, District Attorney Dewayne Richardson announced today. Wells was found [&hell... read more
DEFENDANT CONVICTED FOR SHOOTING MAN IN THE BACK
Greenville, MS—Geor’Barri Wells, 26, of Leland, was found Guilty of Second Degree Murder and Aggravated Assault Saturday in Washington County following a four-day jury trial. In the early morning hours of Thursday, May 10, 2018, officers of the Greenville Police […]... read more
JENNIFER YORK CONVICTED OF MANSLAUGHTER & CHILD NEGLECT
District Attorney W. Dewayne Richardson announced today that a Washington County Jury returned Guilty verdicts on six (6) criminal charges against Jennifer York on the evening of Wednesday, August 4, 2021. The trial, which began on Monday, August 2, was […]... read more
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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.
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Greenville MS 38702
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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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