Ex-cop’s record in death erased

Sixteen months after a former Jackson police officer pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of a motorist, he could conceivably return to law enforcement.

The guilty plea by Jeffrey Middleton has been removed from his record.

In March 2007, Middleton, then 29, pleaded guilty to culpable negligent vehicular man-slaughter in the death of 23-year-old Desmonde Harris of Jackson.

“It’s not fair that he didn’t spend one day in jail, and now he has it wiped off his record,” said Harris’ mother, Edna Harris of Jackson. “It’s just not fair that he doesn’t have a record. If it would be anyone else, he would have a record.”

When Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter took Middleton’s plea, he placed him on two years’ probation and withheld adjudication of the case.

Withholding adjudication meant that if Middleton stayed out of trouble while on probation, the judge could, in effect, undo his guilty plea.

Earlier this month, Hinds County Circuit Judge L. Breland Hilburn, who has assumed DeLaughter’s criminal docket, signed an order that Middleton had successfully completed probation and dismissed the charge.

DeLaughter is temporarily suspended from the bench until the outcome of judicial complaints filed against him are resolved. The judicial complaints do not involve the Middleton case.

Middleton’s attorney, Tommy Mayfield, said last week that he didn’t know the charge had been dismissed.

Middleton could not be reached for comment. The Florence telephone number listed for him is no longer in service. The Clarion-Ledger left a message for a family member of Middleton’s seeking to get in touch with him, but the call wasn’t returned.

Then-Hinds County District Attorney Faye Peterson had questioned the legality of DeLaughter’s placing Middleton on a nonadjudication status.

DeLaughter was quoted at the time: “If there had been an objection made by the victim’s family, it would have been an entirely different situation.”

Clarion Ledger
7/21/8