Thursday, May 26, 2005

Jury returns guilty verdict

Staff Writer

A Byhalia man was tried last week and found guilty of aggravated assault with a vehicle in Marshall County Circuit Court May 19.

James Louis Medlin, 46, of 427 Minton Road in Byhalia, was on trial in a grand jury indictment stemming from an August 26, 2004, incident in front of his mother’s home where he was accused of using his Jeep Cherokee to repeatedly run over the son-in-law of his older brother. He has been held in the Marshall County jail without bond following the incident and charges.

The victim, Medlin’s mother, his brother and sheriff’s deputies testified for the state’s prosecution and the defense called no witnesses, according to assistants with the district attorney’s office.

Records show Medlin with a history of charges in justice court including assault, malicious mischief and disturbance of a family.

While awaiting trial, Medlin was denied bond by Judge Andrew Howorth with the bench finding that Medlin was a threat to his family and the community. He also tested positive for benzodiazepines, cocaine and marijuana after his arrest, according to court documents.

District Attorney Ben Creekmore, who prosecuted the case, said on August 26, 2004, Medlin had been at his mother’s house early in the day causing a problem with his mother and the sheriff’s department had been called out earlier in the day but law officers could not locate Medlin.

“At the time the incident occurred the defendant came back bothering his mother and she called the older brother who came down to the mother’s home,” Creekmore said.

The defendant, his mother and older brother and the victim all live on the same street, he said.

“The brother came down and asked the defendant to leave and the defendant gets out of his car and assaults his brother,” Creekmore said.

The victim, a son-in-law of Medlin’s brother, came to the scene with his wife and tries to pull Medlin off his father-in-law, according to Creekmore.

Medlin then started to beat the victim, he said.

“It’s back and forth; the victim hit the defendant once in the leg with a baseball bat to try to stop the assault - a one-handed swing,” said Creekmore. “The defendant gets back in his Jeep and throws something at the victim which hits his head. He gets back out of the Jeep and assaults the victim with his fists.”

Medlin got back in the Jeep, backed it out of his mother’s driveway and pointed the vehicle toward his older brother on the left of the driveway, made a circle and pointed the Jeep at the victim on the right making threats, Creekmore said.

The victim tried to escape and get behind a telephone pole but was rammed into a fence before he was able to escape, he said. Medlin ran the Jeep back and forth over the victim three times before the victim’s wife fired a shot at a wheel to try to stop the assault with the vehicle on her husband, according to the district attorney.

Medlin’s brother then picked up the baseball bat and cracked the windshield of the Jeep on the driver’s side. Medlin backed off and left the scene but returned later and was arrested by deputies who had arrived, Creekmore said.

The defense argued that Medlin’s brother and son-in-law were assaulting the defendant with a baseball bat and had the defendant pinned down. Defense alleged that the running over was an accident, Creekmore said.

The victim was airlifted to the Memphis Med.

Medlin’s attorney, David Hill of Oxford, did not return a call for comment on the trial.

Creekmore said the jury deliberated about two hours before returning a verdict of guilty. The jury was composed of three caucasian males, four African American males and five caucasian females.

Medlin’s attorney requested a presentencing report which was approved by presiding Judge Henry L. Lackey. A sentencing hearing will be held where witnesses can testify, Creekmore said.

He said Medlin’s drug use was a factor in the incident.

“This trial graphically demonstrates how drug abuse can violently destroy families,” Creekmore said. “Because James Medlin chose drugs over his family, Bobby Maness suffered horrific injuries from which he will never fully recover.”

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