Hinds DA loses motion in murder trial

Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith failed today to get the authority to charge senior Circuit Judge Swan Yerger’s court administrator with a crime for whiting out the judge’s signature on a document.

Yerger testified at the show cause hearing in Hinds County Circuit Court that his court administrator, Karla Watkins, was justified in making the change to the document.

Smith’s office had presented a document earlier this month to Yerger to order a witness from Oklahoma to come to Jackson to testify in the capital murder trial of Sharrod Ray Moore. Moore is charged in the 1995 murder of Jackson Police office R.J. Washington.

But the document had the incorrect date for the witness to appear. It had Jan. 26, 2008. Moore’s trial is set for March 2, 2009.

Yerger said he signed the document and gave it to Watkins to make sure the dates in the document were corrected before it would be sent out.

“She certainly had the authority to white it out, tear it up or do whatever,” Yerger testified. “I didn’t want it to go out incorrect.”

Clarion Ledger
12/18/8