Panola County is gearing up for at least six murder cases in the coming months — a higher number than it usually sees in a year.
Here is where those cases stand:
Holland’s Quarter Shooting
Jeffrey Mickens, accused of shooting two women, one fatally, and briefly kidnapping a toddler before taking part in a 10-hour standoff with police, where he fired at a deputy, is charged with murder, attempted capital murder of a peace officer, two counts of aggravated kidnapping and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for the 2018 incident.
Mickens’ trial is set for June 17.
Mickens will be representing himself. During a hearing Thursday afternoon, Mickens told Judge LeAnn Rafferty that his appointed lawyer, Rick Hagan, had not done anything to help him.
“He has not once asked me what happened on the night in question or tried to ask me or went over anything with me as far as this case,” Mickens said. “...I asked to speak to somebody as far as a psychologist as far as my state of mind on when this night in question happened. He told me no. He told me I didn’t need to speak to nobody.”
— “You want to represent yourself?” Rafferty asked.
“If need be. Because he ain’t doing nothing for me, so I might as well represent myself,” Mickens said.
Mickens has a constitutional right to represent himself, but Rafferty told him and Hagan that she would keep Hagan on the case to provide Mickens assistance.
She strongly advised Mickens not to represent himself and at one point grew frustrated by Mickens’ attitude in the courtroom.
“I will also have — so you’re going to trial on June 17. You understand that, sir?” Rafferty asked.
— “Yup,” Mickens said.
“Yes or no, please,” Rafferty said.
— “Yup,” Mickens said.
“OK. Well I would hold you in contempt of court, sir, but you’re already in jail,” Rafferty said.
The state is not offering a plea deal, prosecutors told Rafferty, because the victims would not support one.
DeBerry Double Homicide
A quartet of cases is scheduled this fall in connection with a 2017 double homicide shooting in DeBerry.
Four Bossier City men are accused of fatally shooting Shayla Carson, 18, of Waskom and Dalton Berry, 21, of Panola. They are also accused of shooting a third person who survived the incident.
Marlon Kelly and Mose Smith, charged with capital murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, are scheduled to begin Sept. 9. Prosecutors said they intend to try the alleged shooter, Kelly, first before the other cases.
Cartrell Williamson is set to go to trial on charges of murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on Oct. 14. Cordarius Thompson’s trial for murder and aggravated assault has also been set for Oct. 14.
Panola County District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson told county officials at a budget workshop his office is not seeking the death penalty in either capital murder case.
Braylyn Sheppard is accused in the death of his 2-year-old son Kaisyn in 2018. He has been charged with capital murder of a person under 10 years old.
After having Sheppard meet with a psychiatrist, prosecutors told Rafferty in April they would not seek the death penalty in the case.
At a hearing Thursday, Rafferty agreed to reduce Sheppard’s bond from $1 million to $500,000. He had still not made bail as of Friday afternoon.
Should Sheppard make bail, Rafferty imposed several conditions on his bond, including:
- He will wear an ankle monitor and be confined to just a handful of counties in the area.
- He will abstain from drugs or alcohol, and he will be subject to random drug tests.
- Any contact with minor children will have to be supervised.
Kaisyn’s mother, Brianna Jones, has been charged with abandoning or endangering a child criminal negligence in connection with the case. A capital murder charge for Jones was dismissed earlier this year “without prejudice” based on new information collected by law enforcement, Davidson said at the time. Because the charge was dismissed without prejudice, that means prosecutors have the option to re-file the charge in the future if they choose.