In HottyToddy.com’s latest interview with the chief investigator on the Zacharias McClendon murder, Alan Wilburn confirms that the accused in the case are being held in the Lafayette County jail pending a mid-January Grand Jury proceeding.
“If the Grand Jury finds sufficient evidence to remand the case to the Circuit Court, a criminal trial date will be set,” explained Wilburn. The grand Jury is made up of a a panel of citizens considered peers of the charged suspects.
Among the details that Wilburn shared was that McClendon’s vehicle was stolen by one of the suspects and eventually found by County deputies at a Chevron Station off Highway 6 on Thacker Road. Wilburn said that McClendon died from a fatal gunshot to the head.
Charged in the case are: Steven Matthew Wilbanks, 22, of North Carolina; Derick Boone, 23, of Laurel, Miss.; and Joseph Lyons, 20, of Houston, Texas. Bond was denied by Judge Mickey Avent, and the three will remain in the Lafayette County Detention Center while the Grand Jury meets.
Chief Investigator Wilburn added that the motive for the shooting was robbery. Wilburn would not discuss if drugs played any role in the case.
In Mississippi, Wilburn explained, a killing in the course of an attempted robbery is considered Capital Murder and all three suspects may be considered equally at fault legally, despite the identity of the actual shooter.
The three suspects are all Ole Miss students. Lyons recently dropped out of school, but the other two are still enrolled.
Lyons’ father, Dr. Horace Lyons, has apologized to the McClendon family. He is a former criminal justice professor.
McClendon was currently enrolled as a graduate student at the University.
Wilburn said the charged men receive daily access to a recreational yard and are allowed visitors and phone calls, but that the County Jail is more like a holding facility than a prison.
Wilburn would not speculate on a trial date given the possibility that the Grand Jury remands the case to a criminal court. “Capital murder cases can take a long time to begin,” he added.
Andy Knef is editor of HottyToddy.com. Andy can be reached at Andy.Knef@HottyToddy.com