Defendant pleads guilty to role in 2009 shooting
One of two half-brothers are scheduled for trial on individual armed robbery charges in connection with last fall’s shooting of a 30-year-old Starkville man has pleaded guilty to the charge against him.
In an Oktibbeha County Circuit Court hearing on Monday, Kenyon Derrell “Smoke” Cannon, 29, of 141 Pilkington Park, pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated assault and armed robbery in the Oct. 30, 2009, shooting of Patrick Shumaker outside the Shumaker’s North Montgomery Street apartment.
Cannon was sentenced to 30 years in prison on the armed robbery charge, but 15 years of the sentence was suspended.
Cannon also was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison on the aggravated assault charge, but that time was ordered to be served concurrently with the remaining 15 years he will serve on the armed robbery conviction.
Cannon was also fined $1,000.
Cannon and his half-brother — Roderick “Bam Bam” Franklin, 30, of 200 Catherine St. — were both scheduled to stand trial beginning Monday before Cannon entered his guilty plea.
Franklin’s trial has been rescheduled to Jan. 31 after his attorney had a death in the family and was unable to be present in court.
The shooting incident in which Cannon and Franklin are charged was reported to police shortly after 11 p.m. the day of the incident when Shumaker, whose name was not initially released by police but is now made public in Circuit Court records, attempted to flag down passing cars on North Montgomery Street and a concerned motorist called E-911 operators.
Though walking and talking, Shumaker was bleeding heavily and had attempted to get help by knocking on doors of nearby homes to no avail, said Starkville Police Department detectives following the shooting.
Shumaker had been shot in the head, shoulder and neck and other areas of the upper body with a .380-caliber handgun, police said. He had to be transported to a Jackson hospital for more intensive treatment of his injuries.
Judge overrules motion
In a separate court hearing on Tuesday, Judge Lee Howard overruled a motion to enforce a plea agreement by the man charged as an accessory to the fatal Jan. 25, 2008, crash that killed two people and left another woman critically injured.
In August, Eric W. Gregory, 32, of Louisville was set to plead guilty to a charge of being an accessory after the fact to the fatal predawn crash on Jan. 25, 2008 that killed Matthew Gaskin, 23, of Aberdeen and Jessica Burks, 27, of Starkville and seriously injured Heather Kay McMillan, 26, of Maben.
But the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court hearing in August came to a screeching halt after Gregory’s attorney, Tom Royals of Jackson, filed a motion to enforce a plea agreement, contending that prosecutors had made Gregory an offer of a plea bargain earlier in the investigation process.
Assistant District Attorney Mark Jackson, who is now prosecuting the case after former ADA Frank Clark moved to Georgia last year, said no plea bargain offer was made. Jackson maintained that stance on Tuesday. “No plea offer was made,” Jackson said.
Howard overruled Royals’ motion on Gregory’s behalf, saying that judges, by law, are not to be involved in plea agreement negotiations and that he would not interject himself into the process.
Sheriff Dolph Bryan did testify during Tuesday’s hearing.
That case in which Gregory is charged ultimately saw Ryan Crick, 28, a former Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks officer, plead to three charges of aggravated DUI and one charge of leaving the scene of an accident with a death or injury after he was driving the jeep in which he, Gaskin, Burks and McMillan were riding when the crash occurred.
Crick, who was sentenced a year go to serve 60 years in prison, left the scene of the crash, reported the accident using Burks’ cell phone to E-911 operators and was picked up by Gregory, who drove from Winston County, officials said. The jeep Crick was driving when the crash occurred belonged to Gregory, who reportedly drove by the crash site en route to pick up Crick, officials said.
McMillan and the families of Burks and Gaskin were present in the courtroom Monday for what they originally thought was to be Gregory’s sentencing hearing, but left the Courthouse Annex after meeting with Jackson behind closed doors after Royals filed the motion to enforce a plea agreement.
Circuit Court proceedings were recessed after Tuesday’s actions to allow Howard and fellow Judge Jim Kitchens to attend a judges’ conference.