If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
WATER VALLEY – A new wrinkle has surfaced in a bizarre string of criminal cases for crimes and alleged crimes involving the same defendant. Kendrick Scott, the man convicted of robbing the same convenience store in Water Valley twice and accused of the heinous double murder of Richard Dicken and Jennifer Nault last year, has appealed his store robbery conviction and life sentence to the Mississippi Supreme Court.
Circuit Judge Jimmy McClure sentenced Scott as a habitual offender under the “three strikes law” for the store robbery in July, ordering life in prison without the possibility of parole – seemingly putting an end to the crime spree and providing immense relief for the family and friends of Dicken and Nault.
The trial for the capital murder charges is scheduled April 11, 2022, but family members of both homicide victims have closely monitored the court proceedings in the strong arm robbery charge from the Exxon store robbery. Their reason was simple, as Dicken’s step-father, Don Broderick, told the Herald – Scott’s conviction in the robbery provided some closure for the families of Dicken and Nault as they knew he would be behind bars for a long time.
An important disclaimer, although Scott has been indicted by a grand jury for two counts of capital murder in the homicides, he is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The indictments handed down by the grand jury only mean that there is probable cause to charge Scott with the murders.
Scott’s appeal follows a conviction of strong arm robbery in the store robbery during a trial that was far from routine. For starters, it was the first criminal trial in circuit court in the Water Valley courtroom in almost three years. Circuit Clerk Daryl Burney reported that 300 jury summons were mailed out, a large number in case there was a low response due to Covid concerns.
A reported affiliation between Scott and the Gangster Disciples prompted intense courtroom security. And as jury selection was underway, Scott loudly blurted “guilty as hell.”
Assistant District Attorney Steve Jubera admitted Scott’s outburst made it more difficult to impanel a jury. He stressed to each prospective juror that their job was to weigh the case solely on the evidence that would be presented and not let Scott’s courtroom declaration sway their decision.
Evidence presented during the trial included surveillance video from the store, testimony from witnesses and law enforcement and Scott’s statements to officers when he was questioned. The case went out to the jury late on a Tuesday, and they initially deadlocked after deliberating almost two hours. They returned to the courtroom the next morning and deliberated for less than an hour before returning a guilty verdict.
On April 30, 16 days after the verdict, Scott’s court-appointed attorney, Cory Williamson, filed a post-trial motion asking for the court to enter judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, in the alternative, a new trial. The motion for JNOV typically is relief requested when the defendant believes that no reasonable jury could reach the verdict that the jury in the case just did. And in case the judge disagreed with that motion, Scott’s second request was for a new trial.
The two-page motion argued that Scott’s statement, “‘guilty as hell’ prejudiced the jury beyond all hopes of being able to remain impartial and without prejudice.” The post-trial motion also noted that the defendant’s Motion for Mistrial made during the trial should have been granted as the entire jury pool was tainted and prejudiced by the actions of Scott. The final point in the motion was that the prosecution failed to meet its burden of proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Judge McClure would first take care of the sentencing, ordering the life sentence on July 28. On August 10, the judge entered an order denying the post-trial motions filed by Scott.
On August 3, Judge McClure also entered an order granting a request for Williamson to withdraw from representing the defendant. The order also stated that the Indigent Appeals Division of the Office of State Public Defender would represent Scott in the appeal. On September 10, Scott’s new attorney appealed the conviction, sentencing and post-trial motions to the Supreme Court of Mississippi.
A Bizzarre Story
Now to substantiate that Scott’s story is far from normal. The saga starts on June 19, 2017, when Scott entered the Exxon store on Frostland Drive and told the clerk that he had a gun and demanded money. He then fled with cash and merchandise, but left a valuable piece of evidence on the counter – his wallet that contained his birth certificate and voter ID card. Although local police were immediately able to identify Scott as the suspect, it would take almost three weeks and a barrage of officers to take him into custody following an hour-long manhunt in Water Valley. Scott was convicted in the robbery and sentenced to five years in prison.
Scott was already out on post-release supervision when he entered the same store on June 2, 2020, and demanded money from the clerk. Court documents indicate that he was as ill-prepared this time as during the earlier robbery. He arrived at the store as a passenger in an acquaintance’s vehicle. When the acquaintance entered the restroom, Scott jumped over the counter, pushed the store clerk aside and grabbed the money from the register before making a hasty getaway in the acquaintance’s vehicle. Authorities strongly believed that the acquaintance, still inside the restroom, was oblivious to the entire incident until it was over.
Water Valley Police Chief Jason Mangrum reported his department was able to obtain ample evidence in the hours that followed and obtained a warrant for Scott’s arrest. Scott was apprehended by an agent with the Mississippi Department of Corrections a week later at a family member’s residence in Charleston. The stolen vehicle was found stashed in a junk yard in Tallahatchie County.
Just weeks before the second store robbery, on May 17, 2020, firefighters were dispatched to a fully-involved fire on County Road 294, just west of Water Valley off Hwy. 32. They were alerted that the occupants may be inside and after extinguishing the blaze, they found two bodies. It would take week and months before details would publicly emerge – first that the cause of deaths for Nault and Dicken was homicide and later that Scott was a suspect. Details about the grisly crime scene slowly emerged, information that revealed that both victims and their dog were shot inside the mobile home before it was torched in an attempt to hide the crime.
Over eight months would pass before authorities charged Scott with the deaths. The news broke in early February, Scott was charged with two counts of capital murder. Jubera explained that investigators spent months gathering physical evidence as well as large amounts of cell phone data and other evidence in the case. Jubera also explained that Scott had been behind bars since June, 2020, and was not a threat to the public during the investigation.
The late sheriff Mark D. Fulco also explained that a tedious investigation is far from what people see on television.
“This isn’t like what you see on TV. It takes more than 45 minutes to solve a case,” Fulco explained in the days after Scott was charged for the murders.
Scott remains in custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The Mississippi Supreme Court has not set a date for the appeal to be heard.