Man falls asleep while smoking, dies in fire

News Briefs From Across The State

By Monica Land

Authorities said sheets and bed caught on fire

A 70-year-old Natchez man has died from severe burns to his upper body and face days after he fell asleep smoking a cigarette setting his bed and sheets on fire.

Bill Grover Hammett died Jan. 26 at the Joseph M. Still burn center at Doctor’s Hospital in Augusta, Ga.

Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said deputies responded to a report of a house fire at 1:06 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Mayfield said arson investigator Sgt. Buddy Frank inspected the house after the fire and verifed Hammett’s statement as to how the fire began.

Tour bus accident reported in north Jackson

There were several injuries, but no fatalities after a tour bus supposedly crashed on Interstate 55 north of downtown Jackson on Jan. 30. Jackson Police Officer Colendula Green said the accident involved a Cline Tour Bus.

Traffic resumed shortly after the incident.

Green said the exact number and nature of the injuries was not immediately known.

The owner of Cline Tours, however, said the bus was bumped by another vehicle causing the incident. The owner, John McCommon, said the bus was carrying students from one campus of St. Andrews School to another campus when a vehicle in another lane skidded into the bus, the Associated Press reported.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Man sentenced for sexual battery, burglary

A Hattiesburg man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for convictions of sexual battery and burglary stemming from the 2010 home invasion and sexual assault of a woman in Oak Grove.

The Hattiesburg American reports Lamar County Circuit Court Judge Prentiss Harrell sentenced Deshun White to 25 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with 10 to serve and the remaining 15 suspended on the burglary charge. White must serve 20 years of a 30-year sentence on the battery charge, day for day, to run consecutively with the 10 from the burglary charge.

The charges come following the investigation of an Oct. 22, 2010 investigation into a random incident involving a 19-year-old woman.

Neshoba assault conviction upheld

The state Court of Appeals has upheld Christopher Smith’s 2010 conviction for aggravated assault.

Smith was convicted in Neshoba County in the shooting of Nellie Woodward of Philadelphia while she stood in the carport of her home on Feb. 16, 2010.

Smith was also convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

According to court records, Woodward testified she knew the masked shooter’s identity because of a teardrop tattoo under his right eye, which was visible when the crime occurred. She also testified that she knew Smith because he at one point had dated her granddaughter.

The Appeals Court rejected Smith’s claims that statements he gave investigators should not have been used as evidence against him. In one of the statements, Smith confessed to the crime, court records showed.

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