Starkville man denied third chance after viewed as threat

LiJames Halbert stands before Judge Jim Kitchens on Friday in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court. (Photo by Faith Lifer, SDN)
By: 
Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

Circuit Court Judge Jim Kitchens called a Starkville man a “danger to society,” then revoked his suspended sentence on Friday.

Judge Kitchens’ actions were in response to the state’s petition, alleging LiJames Halbert violated the conditions of his post-release supervision. Halbert was indicted for manslaughter after the death of Breanna Hampton in an automobile wreck in 2012.

Halbert pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge in January 2013 and was sentenced to eight years in prison, with five years post-release supervision.

Halbert was on post-release supervision in April when he was arrested on felony charges of counterfeiting and auto theft.

Halbert was also charged with misdemeanor reckless driving, disregarding a traffic device, no drivers license, no seatbelt, improper passing, driving on the wrong side of the road, failure to yield, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and no insurance.

He has not yet been indicted on the counterfeiting and auto theft charges.

Although Halbert admits to the allegations, he wished to offer an explanation in open court.

“Mr. Halbert is not here to offer any speech,” Halbert’s defense attorney, Clarissa Harris, said. “He is here to ask for a second chance on probation.”

Harris said Halbert was out of work at the time of the incident, going through depression. Since Halbert has been in custody, he learned he has a baby on the way.

Halbert has applied for admission to East Mississippi Community College to pursue a degree in business and marketing, and he says he has a job waiting for him at Mr. Bubbles. Halbert’s fiancee was also present in court.

“He is willing to admit to his mistakes,” Harris concluded. “But he wants to be given a second chance so he can be a great father to his child.”

“If it was just that he had been charged with a new felony and not been indicted, the court would probably see it your way to see what happens with a grand jury,” Judge Kitchens said.

However, Kitchens said there was probable cause to believe Halbert committed his pending felonies and misdemeanors due to his past behavior. Kitchens found, along with Halbert’s past charges, Halbert’s pending charges constitute Halbert as a danger to society.

“When you look at the fact that he’s been previously convicted for operating a motor vehicle in a negligent manner and killing somebody, this court feels that it has no choice but to revoke the five years of post release supervision as credit for time he’s spent in jail,” Kitchens concluded.

OTHER CIRCUIT COURT CASES

Deqon Ellis

Judge Kitchens chose not to accept the guilty plea of Deqon Ellis on Friday, after Ellis passed his drug test in court.

Ellis was indicted on two counts of automobile burglary in June 2017.

The indictment states Ellis burglarized the cars of George Stone and Brandon Copas on Dec. 26, 2017.

He pleaded guilty to one count of automobile burglary in April, but the court did not accept his plea because Ellis said he would not pass a drug test. His sentencing was continued to court on Friday. In open court, Ellis claimed he had not smoked marijuana in two months, which was confirmed when he passed a drug test. Because Ellis did not cause damage during his offenses, Kitchens chose to not accept Ellis’ guilty plea. Kitchens fined Ellis $500, which will be paid in a monthly fee
of $50 beginning Sept. 3.

The state dropped Ellis’ second count of automobile burglary.

Leevester Ellis

For the arraignment of Leevester Ellis on July 27, Circuit Court Judge Lee Howard entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of Ellis.

Ellis was unable to plea for himself due to his mental status.

Ellis was indicted in July for a shed burglary, but Ellis can’t remember the burglary.

Howard filed for a mental evaluation of Ellis, for which Ellis will be transported to Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield. According to court records, Ellis has a history of mental illness.

Bond will not be set for Ellis, and on the issue of his competency, Ellis is to remain in custody until his mental health evaluation.

Tabria Bradley

Judge Howard issued a bench warrant for the immediate arrest of Tabria Bradley on Friday. Bradley is facing three counts of auto burglary, which occurred at Starkville Academy in October 2017, but she has not appeared for this term of court since she was released on a $20,000 bond.

No bond will be set pending her arrest.

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