Trial set for house parent accused of sexual battery


Seth Copes and Derrick Bankhead

Seth Copes and Derrick Bankhead



Dispatch Staff Reports



Twelve years after the alleged crime and five years after his indictment, a former Palmer Home house parent will stand trial before Judge Jim Kitchens in circuit court. 


Seth Copes, 44, is accused of molesting eight-year-old twin girls in May 2006, although the girls did not come forward until 2012, when the children related multiple incidents of sexual touching by Copes to their grandmother. 


Following an investigation, Copes was arrested and charged with sexual battery and was indicted by a grand jury on two charges of sexual battery on Oct. 25, 2013. 


Count one of the indictment states the grand jury found evidence that Copes "did unlawfully, willfully and feloniously, engage in sexual penetration" of one of the sisters by "inserting his penis into her mouth."  


Count two states Copes "did unlawfully, willfully and feloniously, engage in sexual penetration" of the other sister by "inserting his finger into her vagina."  


Copes bond was set at $40,000 and he has been out on bond since 2014.  


Copes and his wife, Kara, were terminated soon after the allegations emerged for reasons not related to the alleged incident, according to Palmer Home CEO Drake Bassett.  


Kara Copes has not been charged. 


Copes is represented by Patrick Rand of Richland. Assistant District Attorney Collen Hudson will prosecute the case. 


If convicted, Copes will face 20 years to life in prison. 


Derrick Bankhead 


The third trial for a Columbus man accused of murdering his disabled cousin is slated to start this week. 


Derrick Bankhead, 41, was one of four suspects indicted for charges related to the 2011 murder of Eddie Bankhead, who was shot during a home robbery. Derrick Bankhead was charged with capital murder. 


Derrick Bankhead has twice gone to trial in Lowndes County for the murder, first in September 2016 and then later in December 2017. A jury convicted him in the first trial, but his sentence was vacated after his attorney, Mark Williamson of Starkville, learned District Attorney Scott Colom had a conflict of interest prosecuting the case. The 2017 trial ended in a hung jury. 


Derrick Bankhead's trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday, with Patrick Beasley, from the state Attorney General's Office, prosecuting.




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