FBI Investigating Deadly Panola Hit-and-Run
(Panola County, MS) The Panola County Grand Jury met Wednesday to consider, among other things, the fate of at least two teenagers reportedly involved in a deadly hit and run.
Some are calling it a “hate crime”.
As the anthem of the NAACP played on nearby church bells, the state civil rights group called for an investigation into the killing of 61-year-old Johnny Lee Butts.
What the group didn’t know, is that multiple investigations are already underway.
Those involve the Panola County Sheriff, The District Attorney, and now, we’ve learned, the FBI.
It suggests a strong possibility the teenagers in the car that ran down Butts, who was walking on the other side of the road, could face hate crime charges.
Relatives, like Butts’ cousin Freddie Cobb, believe those charges, on top of murder, are appropriate, ”It’s a good possibility. I mean, who knows for sure, you know? From what we’re hearing it sounds like it may be. I mean, who would be that devilish or hateful just to run over someone in the street?”
Investigators charged 17-year-old Matthew Whitten Darby of Senatobia with murder in the case.
Witnesses believe Darby and two other teenagers in the white sedan, crossed a lake of traffic to intentionally hit Butts, who was walking against traffic, well off the road, in the opposite lane.
Darby is being held on a $300,000 bond while the investigation continues.
Relatives certainly hope that investigation includes, whether the incident meets the standard of a hate crime.
”He was a black man and they were white, so I think it bears an investigation. I do, I do. I’m sure most people would think that.”
Once Prosecutors present their case to the Grand Jury, many here expect indictments against the teens involved.
State classification as a “hate crime” could bring extra harsh charges in this case.
The possible addition of Federal charges could mean serious trouble for those involved in this deadly incident.