Man charged with murder two years after assault

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 12, 2017

An alleged aggravated assault in 2014 has resulted in a man being arrested for murder after his victim died in a hospital almost two years after the incident.
The Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department arrested Jeffery Daniel Lewis, 61, of 2301 Morris Street, on June 11 of this year for indecent exposure, contempt of court and public drunkenness, arrest records state. At the time of his arrest, deputies learned he had a warrant for murder that stemmed from an incident that occurred in 2014.
Lewis was arrested last month after a deputy was dispatched to Palestine Road in reference to an intoxicated individual riding a bicycle in the middle of the roadway, Pearl River County Chief Deputy Shane Tucker said.
When the deputy arrived, he saw Lewis urinating on the side of the roadway, resulting in the indecent exposure charge, Tucker said.
The murder warrant stemmed from an incident that occurred on October 7, 2014 when Picayune Police officers were dispatched to 2213 Walker Street in relation to an aggravated assault, Picayune Police Department Assistant Chief Jeremy Magri said.
When officers arrived, they observed the victim, identified as Willie James Jones, lying in the front yard covered in blood. Officers secured the area and attempted to locate the suspect, but were unable, Magri said.
Due to Jones’ level of intoxication, he was unable to speak to officers and provide information about the assault. Officers observed several lacerations to his left arm, a large laceration on the right side of his face and a large amount of blood coming from both of his legs, Magri said.
When emergency medical personnel arrived, they cut off Jones’ pants and observed that both legs were broken. Jones was then transported to the hospital for treatment.
Picayune detectives took over the case and later received a phone call from one of the patrol officers who had been contacted by an anonymous source about the incident. The source stated Lewis allegedly assaulted Jones during a feud over a bicycle, Magri said.
While searching the scene, detectives located a fire pit where several chairs had been overturned, leading them to suspect an altercation took place there. Detectives also learned that a metal pipe was used during the alleged assault but were unable to locate it, Magri said.
On October 10, 2014, Lewis and a female spoke with detectives at the police station. After a long interview and further investigation, Lewis was identified as a suspect in the alleged assault, Magri said.
Lewis was arrested that day for aggravated assault, but the woman was not charged, he said.
A pastor contacted the department on January 8, 2015 to say Jones was recovering and was now able to speak with officers about the incident, Magri said.
Detectives traveled to the Jackson VA Medical Center on January 13, 2015 and confirmed with Jones that Lewis was the alleged suspect who assaulted him with a metal pipe, Magri said.
Jones would later undergo several amputations to his injured arm and legs due to the assault, Magri said.
Obituary records show Jones died on April 11, 2016.
Lewis was indicted on January 31, 2017 for the murder of Jones.
Indictment documents state the assault was committed “by repeatedly striking Willie James Jones with a metal object, and/or in a manner likely to cause serious bodily injury or death, which in fact ultimately caused the death of Willie James Jones.”
Pearl River County Coroner Derek Turnage declined to comment because of the ongoing nature of the case.
Fifteenth District Attorney Hal Kittrell said Lewis was re-indicted by the grand jury in light of Jones’ death and the complications that resulted from his beating.
Kittrell said a trial would likely be held before the end of the year.

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