By Alyssa Schnugg
The man accused of killing Ole Miss student Jimmy “Jay” Lee has filed a civil suit against the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department claiming he is being wrongfully detained and is asking the court to release him on bond.
Sheldon “Timmy” Herrington was arrested on July 22 and charged with the murder of Lee. Herrington appeared in court in August for a probable cause hearing and a bond hearing. He was denied bond.
Lee, 20, was last seen at about 6 a.m. on July 8 when he left his apartment at Campus Walk Apartments.
While charged with murder, Lee’s body has not yet been recovered, which is one basis for Herrington’s petition of writ of habeas corpus filed Wednesday at the Lafayette County Circuit Court.
A writ of habeas corpus is used to bring the detainee before the court to determine if the person’s imprisonment is lawful.
In the petition, Herrington points out that Det. Ryan Baker testified in August that cadaver dogs were deployed inside Herrington’s apartment and that the dogs “alerted” to the presence of a dead body. The suit claims that Baker did not recount the specifics about the qualifications of the cadaver dogs or their handlers or whether the dogs were trained as search and rescue dogs or verified to actually detect human remains.
The petition points out that Lee’s remains have not yet been found and that there is no evidence that a crime has occurred and that the case against Herrington is “purely circumstantial.”
The case against Herrington was not presented at the August grand jury and he has not been indicted on the capital murder charge.
During the August hearing, Baker the two men had known each other for about four months and had recently entered into a sexual relationship. Evidence from Herrington’s phone showed text messages to Lee hours before he went missing.
In the text conversation, Herrington said he wanted to do something “he’d never done before.”
Baker said Herrington’s computer and phone, which were taken as evidence, showed Herrington’s search on Google “How long does it take to strangle someone to death?” and then a second search as to whether working out would increase testosterone.
The petition argues that Herrington being denied bond is against his constitutional rights. According to state statutes, a bond should be granted except where proof is evident or presumption is great; when the person has previously been convicted of a capital offense or any other crime punishable by more than 20 years. Herrington has no prior conviction and the petition argues there is no clear evidence against Herrington.
Herrington and his attorney Kevin Horan told the court in August that Herrington would surrender his passport and voluntarily wear an ankle monitor. However, he was denied bond and remains at the Lafayette County Detention Center.
The petition calls for a hearing to set a “reasonable” bail for Herrington.