Tawana Sandifer case: who dropped the ball? - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Tawana Sandifer case: who dropped the ball?

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By Cheryl Lasseter - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Neither Kenneth Talton nor Maurice Clark ever faced a judge or jury on allegations they had sex with teenager Tawana Sandifer.  "There's no question they had sexual relations. I mean they both admitted that," said police policy expert D. P. Van Blaricom on Tuesday.

We asked city attorney Pieter Teeuwissen whether the men should have been prosecuted for the sexual battery of Sandifer.  "That's a question more appropriate for the district attorney," he told us.

Maybe, but maybe not. Police are supposed to conduct an investigation and turn their evidence over to the district attorney. The D.A. then decides whether there's sufficient evidence to prosecute. But lawyers for Sandifer's family blame Jackson Police in this case. Because police didn't thoroughly investigate while Sandifer was still alive, lawyers say, JPD provided insufficient evidence to the D.A., who was Faye Peterson at the time.

"The Jackson Police Department had two years to conduct an investigation which would have included interviews, sworn statements, gathering of information that would have led to a successful prosecution after her death. None of that was ever done," says Bennie Richard, one of the plaintiff's attorneys.

Teeuwissen doesn't deny all of the scrutiny.

"There's obviously a dispute as to the thoroughness of the investigation, but there's no requirement that an investigation be completed within a certain time period," he says.  "Perhaps before they could complete their investigation, this young lady had run away again."

Kenneth Talton and Maurice Clark were both Jackson Police Officers. Talton was charged with sexual battery against Sandifer back in 2006, after her murder. Charges against him were dropped later that year. Clark was never charged with a sexual crime against Sandifer.

Former Hinds County District Attorney Faye Peterson could not be reached for comment.

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