Why would a man convicted of murder in 2008 be walking the streets five years later? 3 On Your Side set out to answer that question after receiving conflicting reports regarding a recent arrest in a drug bust.
On Tuesday night, 32-year-old Damon Russell was picked up at a home on Kirkley Drive during a drug bust. He was found with marijuana and two guns. An officer on the scene explained that Russell is already a felon, convicted of murder in 2008.
Further investigation shows that's not the case, at least not in Hinds County.
Russell was arrested for murder in Hinds County, and had his bond reduced in 2006. But a grand jury returned a no-bill, and a former Hinds County Assistant District Attorney sent the case back to Jackson Police twice for more evidence.
As Hinds District Attorney Robert Smith puts it, the case just went away.
"This was certainly something that kept going back and forth. One party thought there was evidence, the other party thought there wasn't. Apparently that's what was going on," he says.
When asked if the case could be resurrected, Smith admitted it would be a long shot.
"Anything's possible," he says. "Our office would have to go through and identify the previous detective on the case. But with a case that's been no-billed and sent back several times, it makes it very difficult."
Smith was Russell's public defender at the time of his bond reduction in 2006, but he says he does not recall the case.
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