Attempted kidnapping case continued until October


John B. Arnold Jr. with attorney Charles Yoste in Circuit Court on Friday. (Photo By Faith Lifer, SDN)

By: 
Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

Circuit Court Judge Jim Kitchens pleaded not guilty on behalf of John B. Arnold Jr. for two counts of attempted kidnapping, one count of attempted escape and one count of simple assault of a law enforcement officer in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court on Friday. 

The Oktibbeha County Grand Jury indicted Arnold on all four counts in the July term of Circuit Court.  

Arnold’s attorney, Charles Yoste, was unable to plea for Arnold in his arraignment on Friday. 

“I am here especially for Mr. Arnold today on one count, the first count, of attempted kidnapping,” Yoste said.

Yoste was hired on Arnold’s first count of attempted kidnapping, but since then, Arnold was appointed with a conservator, his father John B. Arnold Sr. 

“It’s going to be up to the conservator whether or not he wants me to continue the representation of Mr. Arnold,” Yoste said. “So I’m not able to enter a guilty, or not guilty plea for him today.”

Yoste agreed to waive a reading of Arnold’s indictments and counts in open court. According to Yoste, a copy of the indictments have been presented to Arnold.

The court also found a copy of an evaluation from the State Hospital at Whitfield Friday morning, which indicates Arnold may need to be sent back to the hospital for treatment.

“Mr. Arnold is not able to enter a plea, so the court will enter a not guilty plea on his behalf at this point in time.” Kitchens said of Arnold's four counts.

Judge Kitchens asked the state to order a mental evaluation for Arnold stating, if he can be restored to competency, he is to be maintained in the State Hospital and treated there.

Arnold is not entitled to bond at this point in time based on the situation.

“No bond will be set to this defendant during his treatment at the state hospital,” Judge Kitchens said. 

Arnold’s trial will be tentatively continued until Oct. 29. Any plea other than a not guilty plea should be filed by Oct. 15. 

These deadlines are subject to change due to the evaluation and treatment at the state hospital. 

If Arnold is still awaiting treatment on Oct. 29, the trial will be continued again.

“Quite frankly, I would be surprised if he’s not awaiting treatment at that time based upon the backlogs at the State Hospital,” Judge Kitchens said.

“We will be pleasantly surprised if he is in and treated before then, but I don’t think that that will be the case.”

HISTORY

During a testimony in Starkville Municipal Court in March, a former girlfriend of Arnold's claimed she filed two attempted kidnapping charges after she heard he had gone to both Starkville Academy and and Sudduth Elementary School in February in an attempt to check her son out.

The ex-girlfriend also claimed she spoke to Arnold following their breakup and his behavior had become erratic. She claimed he “seemed paranoid.”

Starkville Police Detective John Michael Lay claimed Arnold went to Starkville Academy on Feb.16 to ask if there would be a school play, before he was informed the child he was seeking did not attend SA. He then walked around the campus before being asked to leave. 

Lay also stated, the same day, Arnold went to Sudduth Elementary School and approached the school computer used to check students out. A school security officer claimed Arnold asked for assistance to use the computer, claiming he was the boy’s uncle. 

Arnold counts of attempted escape and simple assault of a law enforcement officer came when he allegedly assaulted a correction officer after he tried to escape from the Oktibbeha County Jail exercise yard in February.

The same day, Arnold was transferred to the high risk section of the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center after attempting to escape through a vent in his isolated confinement cell.

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