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April 22, 2015 11:01:03 AM
Prosecutors will not move forward with a new murder trial against Willie Jerome Manning, who previously stood accused of killing two women 22 years ago, court documents show.
An order effectively dropping the charges was filed Monday in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court after the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned Manning's 1996 conviction and sentencing in February.
Justices ordered a new trial after determining the state violated Manning's due-process rights "by failing to provide favorable, material evidence."
Emmoline Jimmerson and her daughter, Alberta Jordan, were found dead at their Brookville Gardens apartment in 1993. Police theorized they were killed during a robbery.
A jury convicted Manning of the murders three years later, but the state's main witness who testified during the trial, Kevin Lucious, later recanted his statements in a sworn affidavits, the order states.
Since the material witness changed his story, "the state is unable to meet the burden of its proof," the order states.
"It's not a matter of if (Manning) did it or didn't do it, it's a matter of how we can't go forward," said district attorney Forrest Allgood. "He was functionally the way we proved our case. There was corroborating evidence, but there were no other witnesses that heard Manning admit (the crime) or go into the apartment."
Lucious previously told then-Sheriff Dolph Bryan and then-Starkville Police Department Capt. David Lindley that Manning admitted he killed the two victims and provided specific details of the incident.
An affidavit recanting the claims states Lucious testified "only because he was afraid of being charged with the two murders," that the information he provided was prepared by law enforcement and that Manning never said "he would not have killed the old ladies if he had known the (sic) didn't have money," Monday's order states.
Lucious also withdrew testimony saying he saw Manning enter the victims' apartment near the time of the murders.
Manning, 46, remains behind bars at the Mississippi State Penitentiary after he was convicted of two capital murder charges stemming from the 1992 deaths of Mississippi State University students Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller.
Manning was scheduled for lethal injection two years ago, but the Supreme Court issued a stay before the procedure was executed.
Lucious is serving two life sentences without parole in Missouri.
A secretary for attorney Mark Williamson, who is listed as Manning's representative on Monday's order, said counsel would offer no comment.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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