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Second murder trial ends in hung jury

 

Derrick Bankhead

Derrick Bankhead

 

 

Isabelle Altman

 

 

The second trial of a man accused of capital murder in the shooting death of his disabled cousin ended in a hung jury Thursday. 

 

He will likely face a third trial, though that date has not been set. 

 

Derrick Bankhead, 40, stood trial in Lowndes County Circuit Court this week for the 2011 murder of 35-year-old Eddie Bankhead. First convicted in September 2016, Derrick Bankhead's sentence was vacated and the court ordered a new trial after Bankhead's attorney, Mark Williamson of Starkville, learned District Attorney Scott Colom had a conflict of interest prosecuting the case. Before Bankhead's indictment, Colom had "stood in" as his legal representative at an initial court appearance a few weeks after Bankhead's arrest, something Colom said he had forgotten. 

 

At Bankhead's new trial, which began Monday, Patrick Beasley with the Attorney General's Office presented the state's case. 

 

Derrick Bankhead is one of four suspects indicted for capital murder after Eddie Bankhead was shot to death during a home invasion and robbery in July 2011. Prosecutors allege Derrick Bankhead planned the robbery with suspects Michael Ross, 37, Omar Beard, 34, and Cortez Williams, 34, and said he was at the scene when Beard and Williams broke into Eddie Bankhead's house to steal cocaine and one of them shot the victim. 

 

Ross, whose trial is set for February, testified at both Derrick Bankhead's trials -- a testimony Williamson argued couldn't be taken seriously. 

 

"He's expecting the state to give him a lighter sentence," Williamson told the jury during closing statements.  

 

"Do you think the state is going to give Michael Ross any consideration for testifying that Derrick Bankhead didn't have anything to do with this?" he added. "Of course not." 

 

Williamson also argued there was no evidence Derrick Bankhead planned the robbery. 

 

During the re-trial, witnesses testified Derrick Bankhead told multiple people it would be easy to rob Eddie Bankhead, who was allegedly a drug dealer, because he had a severe disability that restricted him to a walker. All anyone would have to do, Derrick suggested, was "hold him down." 

 

But Williamson argued Derrick Bankhead was "talking it up," pointing out Derrick had been to Eddie's house a few hours before the robbery to buy $15 worth of cocaine and then left before coming back later to buy more. If Derrick planned to rob Eddie, Williamson said, why didn't he do it during the first visit? 

 

But Beasley argued otherwise. It would be quite the coincidence, he said, if on the very day Derrick Bankhead "talked it up," he happened to be at the scene buying drugs when two other people broke in to commit the same crime. 

 

"He is either guilty, or he is the unluckiest guy alive," he said. 

 

He added Derrick Bankhead couldn't have robbed Eddie Bankhead because Eddie knew him and would have been able to implicate him in the crime -- instead, Derrick was just there to get the door open for the other suspects.  

 

He also didn't act like an innocent man, Beasley said. After seeing Beard and Cortez run into the house and hearing gunshots, Derrick Bankhead had gotten into a car with Beard and Cortez and drove away from the house. 

 

As for Ross' testimony, Beasley said the state had not made a deal guaranteeing Ross any sort of lighter sentence and that his testimony had matched that of other witnesses.

 

 

 

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