News Briefs From Across The State
By Monica Land
Ban issued in August 2012
Smokers on the University of Mississippi campus have received their last warning.
After several years of limiting smoking to designated outdoor areas, Ole Miss officials last August banned all smoking on university property. The smoke-free policy was introduced during the fall semester with warning-only citations, but fines have now begun, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports.
Donna Gurley, assistant university attorney, says soft enforcement may have been counterproductive, because some smokers may have taken “a vacation” during the fine-free period.
Smokers haven’t given up hope overturning the ban. Kathleen Henry, an accounting assistant, says a staff group’s support of the ban doesn’t reflect wishes of most staff members.
Since the policy was announced, Ole Miss has stepped up help for faculty, staff and students who want to quit smoking.
Man injured escaping from burning ‘pot house’
A Gulfport man was severely cut when he tried to escape from a burning home that authorities say had an extensive marijuana growing operation inside.
The Sun Herald reports the unidentified injured man was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Police said the homeowner, 41-year-old Roger Tejas-Silva, was charged with cultivation of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
His bond was set at $50,000 by Justice Court Judge Brandon Ladner.
Fire Chief Mike Beyerstedt said someone had covered the doors and windows with reflective insulation, and had rigged up an electrical system that was too much for the house to handle.
Man pleads guilty to federal drug charge
A Belden man has pleaded guilty to possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute.
Genoriss Freeman, 41, entered the plea in U. S. District Court.
Freeman was indicted for an incident in Monroe County in December of 2010.
Court documents says Freeman was in possession of 28 grams of crack cocaine.
He will be sentenced at a later date.
Motion: Smith not fit for trial
The lawyer for an oncologist charged with capital murder says Dr. Arnold Smith is severely mentally ill and unable to adequately defend himself against charges in an alleged murder-for-hire plot.
The Greenwood Commonwealth reports that Circuit Judge Breland Hilburn took under advisement a motion from the defense to send Smith to a mental health hospital for treatment.
In the motion, Smith’s defense team cited a report from Dr. Gilbert S. Macvaugh III of Greenville, whom it hired to give psychological tests to Smith.
Smith is charged with murder as the alleged instigator of a plot that ended with the death of gunman Keaira Byrd and the serious wounding Derrick Lacy. Byrd allegedly had been hired to kill attorney Lee Abraham, who represented Smith’s ex-wife in their divorce years ago.
Local coroner pleads guilty to DUI
The Oktibbeha County coroner appeared in court this month for a plea to a DUI charge against him.
According to the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department, Oktibbeha County Coroner Michael Ross Hunt, 46, was arrested at in November and charged with his first DUI and careless driving.
Investigators said Hunt was on Highway 82 East in Columbus at the time of his arrest.
He pleaded guilty to DUI and was fined $897.