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WATER VALLEY – Four people charged in the brutal March 5 murder of an Arkansas teenager had their first appearance in circuit court last week. Devin Smith, Bralin Jackson, Layvonnia Jackson and Brandon Jackson appeared before Circuit Judge Jimmy McClure in the Water Valley courthouse on June 15 for a hearing to review the status of their bonds.
The four people arrested, all from Coffeeville, were each charged with first degree murder after allegedly gunning down West Memphis teen Fredarrious Wilson in the Holly Springs National Forest in Yalobusha County. Sources report Wilson, a high school senior who was only months from graduating from the Academies of West Memphis at the time of his death, was shot over 30 times. All four were arrested by Yalobusha County deputies on March 15. Bralin Jackson and Alicia Jackson are husband and wife.
Each defendant was appointed a public defender in justice court for earlier proceedings connected to the case. Judge McClure appointed the same attorneys in circuit court. Devin Smith is represented by Holly Springs attorney Thomas Waller, Brandon Jackson is represented by Oxford attorney Ray Garrett, Layvonnia Jackson is represented by Water Valley attorney Will Phillips and Brandon Jackson is represented by Coffeeville attorney Bradley Peeples.
During the hearing, Judge McClure set the bonds at $500,000 each. Bonds for three of the four defendants – Alicia Jackson, Brandon Jackson and Devin Smith – was initially set at $1,000,000 in justice court. Bralin Jackson’s bond had already been reduced from $1,000,000 to $500,000 in justice court last month.
The June 15 status conference was in accordance with the Mississippi Rules of Criminal Procedure that took effect in 2017 and governs the procedure in all criminal proceedings in the circuit, county, justice and municipal courts in the states. The rules call for judges to appoint lawyers to indigent defendants the first time a defendant appears before a judge. In addition, at the beginning of every court term, the rules state that the sheriff must deliver to the senior judge the names of everyone who has been jailed for more than 90 days. Under the 90-day rule, as it’s known, the senior circuit court judge must review the detention or bail status.
The June 15 hearing was in compliance with the 90-day rule as the cases were bound over to circuit court from justice court. A court date has not been set as the suspects have not been indicted by a grand jury. The cases are expected to be presented to a grand jury in December, as law enforcement reports the investigation is still ongoing as additional evidence is gathered.