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Suspect indicted for murder in May 2010 shooting

February 2, 2011

By BRIAN HAWKINS
sdneditor@bellsouth.net

An young man charged in the May 2010 shooting death of a 25-year-old Starkville man outside a downtown area graduation party is now facing trial on charges of murder and three counts of aggravated assault in the case.
Dennis Thompson, 18, was arraigned on Grand Jury indictments for murder and three aggravated assault counts in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court on Tuesday. Thompson’s bond remains set at $135,000 after Judge Lee Howard had lowered it in November from the initial level of $300,000.
Thompson’s next scheduled Circuit Court appearance is May 2.
Thompson is charged in the May 22, 2010, shooting incident outside a Douglas Conner Drive venue that claimed the life of 25-year-old Curtis “C.K.” Randle of Starkville saw three others suffer various gunshot wounds.
The shootings in which Thompson is charged took place at 1:11 a.m. Saturday after a graduation party had ended at the 124 Place Special Event Center on Douglas Conner Drive just south of Highway 182.
Thompson is accused of firing shots from a .40-caliber handgun into the crowd of people leaving the graduation party at 124 Place at 1:11 a.m. May 22, but police continue to remain largely silent about the circumstances of the incident.
Municipal Court affidavits charging Thompson with the murder and three aggravated assault counts state that he gave a statement confessing to the shootings to police.
Randle was found by police lying on Highway 182, having been shot in the chest.
One of the two female shooting victims was wounded in the right arm and abdomen, the other was struck in the right thigh. The male shooting victim was wounded in the abdomen.
All required varying levels of treatment at OCH Regional Medical Center.
Thompson turned himself in to police less than three hours after the shootings.
His family members have contended that Thompson fired the handgun to defend himself against an assault from several reported gang members who had been harassing him for the last few years.
His family has said previously Thompson picked up the gun from the ground and began firing it after one of those who were assaulting them. The gun belonged to one of those assaulting Thompson, his family said.
Police Department detectives have not commented publicly on the claims by Thompson’s family.

Man’s trial postponed in cowbell assault case

The trial of a Mississippi State student from Columbus in the November 2009 assault of another student using a cowbell has been postponed until the spring Circuit Court term.
Brent Morgan Vowell, 24, was to stand trial this week on an aggravated assault charge in an incident in which William Matthew Brasher was injured amid the post-game celebration following MSU’s 2009 Egg Bowl win over arch-rival Mississippi.
Vowell’s attorneys were granted additional time to investigate the incident, and the trial was rescheduled to the spring court term, which opens in late April.
The incident in which the Brasher, 22, was
assaulted was reported to authorities after he sought medical treatment for his injury, MSU police said.
Brasher suffered a severe head wound after the suspect struck him in the head with a cowbell, said MSU police detectives a few days after the incident.
Vowell and Brasher were in the student section bleachers in the north end zone at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field near the northwest gate, MSU police detectives said.
Brasher had some friends from Ole Miss with him in the stands, and, after MSU won the football game, some verbal sparring occurred with Vowell that turned violent, culminating in Brasher being struck with the cowbell, MSU police detectives said.
Brasher also has a civil lawsuit pending against Vowell in Circuit Court. Brasher is also suing the Southeastern Conference for not enforcing its ban on artificial noisemakers in the incident. MSU is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but court documents state that the university has been served with a claim by Brasher and could be added to the suit if the claim is denied.
Brasher’s lawsuit alleges that when Vowell struck him with the cowbell, he was knocked unconscious and suffered a 4-inch laceration that required staples to close the wound.
The assault saw Brasher suffer a “concussion, memory loss, mental and emotional distress and anguish, depression, paranoia, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life and inability to pursue prior educational and professional goals,” Circuit Court documents state.

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