Depraved-heart murder on Lowndes court docket


David Miller



COLUMBUS -- Columbus woman accused of murdering her unborn child is slated to stand trial in Lowndes County Circuit Court this term.  


Rennie Taria Gibbs, 20, of 300 S. Lehmberg Road in Columbus, No. 25, was 15 when she got pregnant. The baby died in 2006 when Gibbs was 36 weeks pregnant, but prosecutors discovered Gibbs had a cocaine habit. 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. 


The February term of the Lowndes County Circuit Court began Monday and runs through March 2. 


Gibbs' case has been continued multiple times since 2006.  


Carrie Jourdan is her attorney. Daniel Jackson will represent the state. Judge Jim Kitchens will preside over the case, which is scheduled for Feb. 21.  




Capital murder cases  


Several capital murder cases also are up for trial, though court officials said the cases are unlikely to be tried this term.  


  • Charlton Colom, 34, of 291 Sherman Circle, is charged with capital murder in the death of Michael Gordon. Colom also faces a felony weapon charge. Colom has since undergone a mental evaluation at the Mississippi State Hospital in Whitfield. 


  • Lee Major Wilder Jr., 20, of 1508 15th Ave. N., who is charged with the murder of Cornelius Cunningham on Sept. 18, 2008, was mistakenly released Nov. 3, 2010 from a correctional facility in Walnut Grove, despite facing a capital murder charge in Lowndes County. He was later arrested in Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.  


  • Sylvester N. Johnson, 22, of 1407 Cloverdale Place, is charged with the murder of Clarence "Big C" Trimble in 2009. Cameron Merriweather is charged with the shooting death of William Stallings in 2010. And Joe Earl Smith Jr., 42, of 1357 Charlie Smith Road, faces three counts of aggravated assault and one count of capital murder.  


    Under state law, all were denied bond. 




    Murder case 


    The 2011 murder case for George J. Strickland, 45, of 6214 Highway 50 E., is set for Feb. 21. Strickland claims he shot Christopher Wayne George, 36, multiple times in self-defense at Strickland's home in the Steens community. George 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. In August 2011, 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. 


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




    Additional hearings, trials 


  • Lavento Shamon Fox, 27, of 1624 Fourth Ave. S., is scheduled to go through motion hearings on charges of possession of a weapon by a felon and burglary of a dwelling. Fox has a lengthy criminal history, with additional charges of possession of cocaine, robbery and kidnapping.  


    In 2010, Lavento Fox, along with his brother, Sugi Kamar Fox, 30, of 1801 Third Ave. S., broke into a home, fought with two men and stowed one in the trunk of a car. The man eventually popped open the trunk and escaped. Lavento Fox will not face those charges during this term.  


  • Tommy Parker, 62, of 50042 Indian Island Circle, owned the former Parker Kia on Highway 45 North in Columbus. He will go to trial today on three counts of selling mortgaged property for selling customer trade-ins without paying off debt customers owed on the vehicles. 


  • Aimee Houtman Shaw, 40, of 158 Center Road, is accused of embezzling $20,000 from Lowndes County newspaper The Packet, is set to stand trial Feb. 21. Judge Lee Coleman will preside over the trial. 


  • Robert Warren Triplett Jr. is set to stand trial Feb. 21 on a charge of child exploitation. Lowndes County Sheriff's Office officials said a computer obtained from Triplett, of 181 Golding Road, during the ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Kaila Morris, 21, contained images that "appeared to be explicit photos of children under the age of 18." 


    Lowndes County deputies seized all computers and jump drives in Triplett's home. Authorities initially found the images when searching for Morris, Triplett's stepdaughter, in 2009. Morris' disappearance remains unsolved.




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