Murder trial continued

Published 12:09 am Saturday, August 27, 2016

NATCHEZ — The trial of a Natchez man accused of murder was continued Wednesday as the prosecution’s primary witness was unavailable.

Jhakeel Quantez Hawkins, 21, 29B 1/2 Brenham Ave., was arrested in April 2014 by the Natchez Police Department in connection with the Feb. 23 murder of Terrance Thornburg of Natchez.

Tornburg, who died from a gunshot wound, was found in his residence at 630 E. Stiers Lane.

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Defense attorney Timothy Blalock said Friday he objected to the continuance because Hawkins had been sitting in jail a long time. Blalock said while availability of a witness is usually good grounds for a continuance, he was adamant the court move forward or a more reasonable bond be set.

“The purpose of the bond is not to punish someone who is still innocent in the eyes of the court,” Blalock said. “We are not here to punish people before they are found guilty by putting too high a bond.”

Circuit Court Judge Forrest A. Johnson lowered Hawkins’ bond from $200,000 to $50,000. Hawkins was released on a $50,000 bond Thursday at noon.

“My client is not a runner,” Blalock said. “All of his family is here, and I think he will be there for his court date.

“I think it was the right decision.”

The case was continued until the November term with a specific date to be set at a later time.

After Hawkins received his preliminary hearing in 2014, no bond was set for him. Hawkins was detained in the Adams County Jail for 400 days without legal representation or a bond. Justice Court Judge Charlie Vess in July 2015 set a $50,000 bond, which was ultimately posted.

Blalock said in October 2015, after several attempts, the grand jury indicted Hawkins, and he was rearrested and has been in jail since then. At the time his bond was increased to $200,000.

Blalock said Hawkins has been in jail since the bond was increased.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by Mississippi Special Assistant Attorney General Marvin Sanders. The office of the Adams County District Attorney was recused in 2014 because an assistant district attorney had once represented one of the Natchez men arrested in connection with this shooting.

Hawkins was one of three people charged with murder in the Thornburg case.