Victim’s family questions how Jonestown murder suspect was given $25K bond

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JONESTOWN, Miss. — A family is demanding answers after their loved one was killed in Jonestown, MS last month.

Ashley Smith will never forget answering the call telling her boyfriend had been killed on April 13th.

“It just broke my heart. I was like, 'It can’t be true, like I was just on the phone with him,'” Smith said.

Coahoma County Sheriff’s deputies say Vernon Lester was shot to death last month.

He’d just turned 31 years old.

“He was just getting his life together. He just got a good job, a promotion and was doing way better than he was a year ago,” Smith said.

She says he was a great father to their son.

“Now my baby has to grow up, he’s only 1-years-old, and he’ll never know who his father was. It’ll just be memories from everyone else,” Smith said.

Detectives say Danny Mattox, 38, shot and killed Lester.

It happened around 9:30 p.m. inside the WB Pool Hall.

His loved ones say it wasn’t like Lester to be at a bar since he was more of homebody.

“He didn’t mess with anybody. He wasn’t that violent type of person. He was just a cool, laid back guy," Smith said.

A family member said they’ve known the suspect since childhood and he acted like a mentor growing up.

Although surprised by his arrest, they’re even more shocked he’s already out of custody.

He bonded out after his $400,000 bail was reduced to $25,000 at a preliminary hearing.

“I was very surprised. That man walked into a bar full of people and killed somebody and they just let him go. He should be a threat to society. A threat to everybody,” Smith said.

They haven’t been told what led up to the crime or why he’s out of jail, even though Lester’s uncle is the mayor of the town he was killed in.

“His family, my family, everybody’s family, we just need answers. We really need that,” Smith said.

The Coahoma County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case since the small town is down to one officer right now who doesn’t work full time.

We tried tracking down the suspect today but had no luck.

We’re working to find out more on why the suspect’s bond was reduced and why the family’s not getting more information.

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