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Steens murder trial continued

 

Garthia Elena Burnett

 

The story unfolded like a bad made-for-TV movie. 

 

The neighbors heard gunshots. 

 

George Strickland went running across their front yard, retreating into a local body shop. 

 

His wife, Patricia Strickland, knocked at the neighbors'' door, to call 911. 

 

Strickland, now 46, had shot 36-year-old Christopher Wayne George multiple times in self-defense, he told the body-shop owner.  

 

Calmly, the owner of Red''s Body Shop agreed to call 911, if Strickland would first hand over the gun. George Strickland gave him the gun and waited there for sheriff''s deputies. 

 

It was no movie. 

 

It was 10 a.m. on Jan. 31 in the county neighborhood of Steens. 

 

Panic-stricken friends drove by the Strickland home, at 6214 Highway 50 E., wondering what happened and who was being loaded into the coroner''s SUV. 

 

George Strickland was charged with murder for the shooting death of George, who was said to be a family friend who was living with the couple. He also was charged with aggravated assault with a weapon, for shooting at his wife. 

 

Authorities reported the incident as a domestic dispute, though no other details were released. 

 

The complexity of the case has held it up in circuit court. Last week, Judge Jim Kitchens continued the case. Parties needed more time to prepare "due to the complex and serious nature of the charges," according to court filings. 

 

George Strickland remains in custody at the Lowndes County jail; he was denied bond. His attorney is Carrie Jourdan. 

 

 

 

Other murder trials 

 

Two other high-profile murder trials also have been continued until December. 

 

Attorney Gary Goodwin filed a request for a medical exam for Lee Major Wilder Jr., 21, who is accused of the September 2008 killing of Corenelius Cunningham at his 2112 14th Ave. N. apartment. 

 

The defense claims Cunningham is mentally retarded, though the state has yet to respond to the request for mental examination. And a decision on whether or not Wilder is fit to stand trial still is pending. 

 

According to police, Wilder robbed Cunningham and shot him in the head while he was sitting outside his apartment at 2112 14th Ave. N. on Sept. 18, 2008.  

 

Last year, Wilder was mistakenly released year from Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Leake County. He was taken back into custody by U.S. Marshals in Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., on Nov. 23, 2010. 

 

It is unclear why Wilder was released. Both the Mississippi Department of Corrections and the Lowndes County Sheriff''s Office denied fault, though MDOC attributed it to a paperwork error. 

 

The murder trial of Rennie Gibbs, 20, of 300 S. Lehmberg Road, No. 25, also has been continued. 

 

Gibbs faces a murder charge under the state''s rarely used depraved-heart murder law, for the stillbirth of her child, due to cocaine overdose. 

 

She was charged in 2006 when she was 16. Jourdan also is Gibbs'' attorney. 

 

Gibbs was at the scene of a shooting murder in July; 35-year-old Eddie Terrell Bankhead was shot to death at his 2018 1/2 College St. home. 

 

Four Columbus men -- Michael Ross, Cortez Williams, Omar Beard and the victim''s first cousin, Derrick Bankhead -- are charged with the murder. 

 

Officers found drugs, including cocaine, at the house the night of the shooting.

 

 

 

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