Charges dropped for home intrusion, shooting suspects

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012

NATCHEZ — Charges against two men accused of barging into an Adams County man’s residence and shooting him were dismissed nolle prosequi Tuesday after the court determined there was no evidence linking them to the alleged crime.

Lorenzo Green, 20, and Corey Taylor, 23, were accused of aggravated assault in the Nov. 5 shooting of 39-year-old Tyrone Hoggatt Sr. A preliminary hearing to determine if the case against Green and Taylor should be sent to the grand jury was Tuesday.

The only witness to speak at the hearing was Hoggatt, who testified that on the night of the shooting he was sleeping on a couch in his living room on North Circle Drive when he heard dogs barking at approximately 3 a.m. After checking to see what was causing the disturbance, Hoggatt said he returned to the living room. It was then the intruders came. The light of a television, Hoggatt said, illuminated what he saw.

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“I heard a boom, somebody kicked a door in, two guys,” he said. “They had two guns, they had on masks.”

One of the men yelled at him, “Give me what you got.”

The masks hid everything but the men’s eyes. Hoggatt could tell they were black males of average height, but he said he wasn’t able to see any distinguishing characteristics about them. The guns they carried were long guns, either rifles or shotguns.

“One swung the gun and hit me, and when it hit me (the gun) went off,” Hoggatt said.

The victim fell to the floor. The bullet had entered at the back of his head, just below the ear, but traveled down his neck and across his chest before breaking several ribs. Hoggatt said that at the time, he thought he had been shot in the side.

The attackers ran off, and the victim called his mother, who came over and made him get up and later go to her house. When County Prosecutor Barrett Martin asked Hoggatt Tuesday if he contacted law enforcement officers after the attack, he said he did not. Hoggatt said he saw no reason to do so. The question was repeated through the hearing, and Hoggatt’s response was always the same — he did not contact the authorities.

The day after the attack, Hoggatt went to a local hospital because his side was still hurting. He told doctors there he had fallen from a horse, but after languishing there for two days, he was transferred to a Jackson-area hospital because he had blood in his lungs. It was there doctors discovered fragmentary bullets his side, and it was there Adams County’s law enforcement first responded to the shooting.

On the stand Tuesday, Hoggatt maintained that he didn’t even know he had been shot until the doctors in Jackson told him.

When Martin finished questioning Hoggatt, Martin asked if he had any additional information about the men who attacked him. Hoggatt said he did not.

Defense attorney Anthony Heidelberg said that — based on the statements presented in court — the state had no reason to keep the defendants on the charges. Martin made a counter motion asking that the court declare the case nolle prosequi so the sheriff’s office could continue its investigation even if the prosecution was not moving forward at this time.

“We don’t possess other information at this time as to what I would deem proof as to the identification of the intruders,” Martin said.

The state has the fragmentary bullets recovered from the victim’s side, but it does not have a gun to which the bullet could be matched and neither of the defendants has confessed to the crime, he said.

“I believe the sheriff’s office acted on good faith,” Martin said. “I do acknowledge the insufficiencies of the case.”

Judge Charlie Vess granted the prosecution’s motion, but said he was troubled by the fact Hoggatt never contacted law enforcement about the incident.

“The only question I have is I cannot ascertain why someone would get shot and not call the police,” Vess said.