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
JACKSON – A conviction and life sentence for a store robbery in Water Valley will stand after the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling last month, marking what is expected to be the final chapter in a string of bizarre and heinous crimes committed by Kendrick Scott over a three-year period.
Scott’s 2021 trial for strong arm robbery for the store robbery was far from routine – it was the first criminal trial in circuit court in the Water Valley courtroom in almost three years due to Covid. Three hundred jury summons were mailed out, a large number in case there was a low turnout due to Covid concerns. There was also a reported affiliation between Scott and the Gangster Disciples prompting intense courtroom security. And as jury selection got underway, Scott loudly blurted “guilty as hell” in the courtroom.
After hearing testimony from the robbery victims and listening to Scott’s recorded confession, the jury agreed. The conviction marked the fourth for Scott for robbery, and Circuit Judge Jimmy McClure sentenced Scott to a mandatory term of life in prison as a habitual offender.
Scott appealed his conviction in September, 2021, claiming he was irreparably prejudiced by his own outburst during voir dire. His appeal also claimed the trial judge abused his discretion by denying his request for a mistrial.
The state’s highest court disagreed, with eight of the nine justices hearing the case and affirming the lower court ruling. In the seven page ruling handed down on Sept. 22, the court noted that Judge McClure made sure not to seat any jurors who indicated Scott’s comment would impact their decision if they were picked to hear the case. Thirteen jurors stated they could not be fair and impartial after hearing Scott’s outburst and were released from serving. Judge McClure also clearly instructed the jurors who were seated to only consider the evidence presented to them at trial.
“These precautions aside it is also widely held that a defendant cannot create disruptive conduct to provoke a mistrial… In short, there is no inkling Scott suffered prejudice, much less substantial prejudice from a disruption of his own doing. So there was no abuse of discretion in the judge’s denying his (Scott) attorney’s request for a mistrial. We affirm Scott’s conviction and sentence,” the justices wrote.
Assistant District Attorney Steve Jubera has a long history prosecuting Scott for crimes that include two robberies at the same convenience store in Water Valley and the brutal 2020 murders of Jennifer Nault and Kendrick Scott.
“We want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to ensure a defendant gets a fair trail,” Jubera told the Herald after the supreme court ruling. “But you also can’t create a situation where you avoid justice by acting out. That is what Scott did, he acted out in an attempt to avoid justice.”
Jubera pointed to Scott’s life-time of violent crimes dating back to when he was 15 years old and charged with attempted armed robbery.
“Our entire goal was to make sure that the public is safe,” Jubera explained about the importance of the store robbery trial that could have easily been overshadowed by a second trial on the circuit court docket for the capital murder charges for the homicides of Nault and Dicken. The store robbery was committed on June 2, 2020, and Scott was arrested within days. The murders were committed just weeks earlier, on May 17, 2020, but eight months passed before Scott was charged with the deaths following a tedious investigation.
Jubera previously explained there was no rush to charge Scott with the murders, as he remained incarcerated awaiting trial for the store robbery.
“We knew early on he was a suspect in the murders, but we wanted to ensure for the purpose of public safety that he never walked free again, which is why the robbery went first,” Jubera explained. “It was a very straight-forward case, he confessed and was on video. The best way to protect the public was to start with the store robbery.”
Jubera praised the Water Valley Police Department for building the strong case.
“Jason Mangrum did a great job, as well as his department,” Jubera explained. “The victims also did a great job, coming forward and offering their testimony in open court. That was a very important thing to do,” he noted about the store clerks working when Scott committed the robbery.
After receiving the life sentence in the store robbery, Scott was offered a plea in the double murders. In a negotiated plea agreement, the district attorney’s office agreed to reduce the charges from capital murder to manslaughter. Scott pled guilty in August and during upcoming sentencing the district attorney will recommend two 20 year sentences, one for each count, that will run consecutively, meaning a total of 40 years. The sentences will run concurrent to time Scott is serving for the life sentence for the store robbery.
Jubera cited strong investigative work by the Yalobusha County Sheriff’s Department, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the state fire marshals’ office in the murder investigation.
“We were fully prepared to prosecute this case and take it to a jury, but because of Mr. Scott’s status of serving life-without sentence, we would simply be trying it for the justice of the family,” he explained.
Officials also noted that the plea will also save Yalobusha County the hefty expense of a capital murder trial.
Bizarre and Heinous
At age 39, Scott’s first arrest was over 24 years ago. His latest convictions spanned a three year period starting with the June 19, 2017, robbery of the Exxon Store on Frostland Drive in Water Valley. He entered the store and demanded cash, telling the clerk he had a gun. He fled with the cash but left a valuable piece of evidence behind on the counter – his wallet and voter ID card. He was arrested three weeks later after evading officers on multiple encounters.
Three years later, June 2, 2020, Scott was on early release from the store robbery sentence when he entered the same store, jumped over the counter, pushed the clerk aside and grabbed $604 from the register. Again officers obtained ample evidence in the hours following the early morning robbery, and Scott was apprehended a week later.
Only weeks before the second store robbery, Scott entered a mobile home on County Road 294 and killed Nault and Dicken and their dog. According to court documents, the victims were shot, execution-style and Scott torched the home in an attempt to cover up the evidence in what Jubera described as a drug deal gone bad.
Scott, age 39, was out on early on Earned Release Supervision from a five-year sentence in the first store robbery when the subsequent crimes occurred. He is currently housed in the Walnut Grove Correction Facility.
Scott’s brother, H.D. Alexander Scott, also has a lengthy criminal history including a murder conviction in the August, 2003, death of Water Valley resident Bill Quinn.
Alexander Scott was also out on Earned Release Supervision when he committed a second murder in Tallahatchie County in 2016 following an altercation that escalated to multiple gunshots being fired in Webb. He was convicted of the murder in 2019 and is currently incarcerated in Parchman.