Probation revocation hearing held for rape suspect

Published 6:58 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A probation revocation hearing was held on Pearl River County drug charges for Hancock County rape suspect Joseph Bryan Pool, Jr. in Poplarville on Monday.

Pool, who was on probation in Pearl River County for a 2004 charge of possession of precursor chemicals for the manufacture of methamphetamine, has been charged with rape in Hancock County.

The hearing was held to determine if Pool’s probation should be revoked because of the nature of the charges against him in Hancock County.

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Ron Montgomery, of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, told presiding Judge Prentiss Harrell at the hearing that it would be Harrell’s decision whether to hold Pool or not, but that MDOC policy would be to hold the prisoner unless the judge decided otherwise.

Harrell placed Pool under a court program that will restrict his activities, requiring him to wear an ankle bracelet, which will monitor alcohol intake, and requiring him to abide by a curfew. However, Pool will not remain in custody.

Pearl River County Circuit Clerk Vickie Hariel said that as of press time Wednesday, an official court order had not been received in her office detailing the exact terms of Pool’s court program.

Hariel said that although Pool was on probation, his case had not yet been adjudicated.

“When the court accepts a guilty plea, it can withhold adjudication of guilt pending certain criteria. If those criteria are met, a defendant’s record can be cleared if it is acceptable to the court,” Hariel said.

Hariel said Pool also had a charge from 2004 of possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a church or school, but that the charge was never prosecuted.

“Generally, if there is more than one offense, the state will dismiss one charge if the defendant will plead to the other,” Hariel said.

Pool’s hearing for adjudication on the possession of precursor chemicals charges has been tentatively scheduled for February, but the specific date was not set at the hearing.

The rape for which Pool is charged in Hancock County occurred on Oct. 19, said Hancock County Sheriff’s Investigator Rita Blaize-Watson, but charges were not filed until last week.

“There were reasons the victim did not press charges until last week, but I cannot discuss those at this time … But the victim identified Pool through a photo line-up,” Blaize-Watson said.

Tara Booth of the MDOC Communications Department would not comment on Monday’s ruling in a phone interview Wednesday morning except to say that the decision was strictly at the judge’s discretion.

“We’re just following orders,” Booth said.