Oktibbeha murder trial ends when witness refuses to testify

Published 2:56 pm Thursday, March 20, 2008

STARKVILLE (AP) — A judge has stopped the murder trial of a man accused of killing a Mississippi State University student after a key prosecution witness refused to testify.

Terrence Chandler, 28, of Starkville, is charged with capital murder in the March 6, 2003, shooting death of 22-year-old Corey Kentrell Davis.

Chandler has been in jail since March 12, 2003, serving a 30-year sentence for a cocaine conviction. Police said a raid at Chandler’s apartment was related to the death of Davis. Officers said a pound of powdered cocaine, $1,159 in cash and a digital scale were confiscated in the raid.

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Davis was reported missing by family members March 8, 2003. Davis’ body was found five days later in an abandoned house in the Rockhill community.

Chandler’s trial began Monday in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court. On Wednesday, after a jury was selected, Circuit Judge Jim Kitchens ended the trial. No new trial date was set.

“We were told that a crucial witness had retained a lawyer,” said Assistant District Attorney Frank Clark. “He is no longer cooperating with us to testify, and there is no way we can meet the burden of proof for this defendant without this testimony.”

The witness, Tomiko Fason, had hired attorney Bruce Burton of Jackson, who refused to comment about the reason Fason has refused to testify.

“Under the Constitution, you yourself, along with the government, have a right to the Fifth Amendment,” said Burton.

Clark did not say to what Fason’s testimony would be. He said the investigation of Davis’ slaying will continue.