While it was not unusual for Mayor Frank Melton to instruct his bodyguards to escort him on spontaneous knock-and-talks through Jackson neighborhoods, the original plan for one evening in August 2006 was to take a group of young men to a preseason professional football game.
After the game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium, Melton told his crew that he wanted to “go check on Bubba,” former bodyguard Marcus Wright testified in federal court Tuesday.
A police officer for nearly eight years, Wright was there on Aug. 26, 2006, when “Bubba” was paid a visit – twice. Bubba was Melton’s nickname for a middle-aged man named Evans Welch, the tenant of a Ridgeway Street duplex in northwest Jackson.
Before the game, Melton had been drinking at home – a mixture described by Wright as about 5/6 scotch and 1/6 water. According to Wright, the mayor was “clearly under the influence.”
Melton and the young men traveled to Bubba’s house in the Jackson Police Department’s mobile command unit. The mayor continued to drink in the unit, Wright said.
Though Wright said he and Recio felt uncomfortable having the young men accompany them, they went along with the mayor’s request to go to 1305 W. Ridgeway St. and entered the home.