Friday, February 8, 2008

Appeals Court Upholds Order for New Trial in '88 Conviction

February 8, 2008

The Associated Press

The state Court of Appeals has upheld a Bolivar County judge's decision ordering a new trial for Jimmy Bass.

Bass was convicted in 1988 and sentenced to 50 years in prison for the robbery of the "61 Quiki" in Cleveland and shooting of store clerk Mary Townsend.

Bass received 20 years for aggravated assault and 30 years for armed robbery. The sentences were to be served consecutively. Bass' conviction and sentence were upheld by the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1992.

Bass was denied a post conviction petition in 1995.

In 2005, he filed a second petition with help from the New Orleans Innocence Project.

It was granted by the Mississippi Supreme Court and led to the trial judge ordering a new trial.

At Bass' first trial, the court record showed Townsend was able to identify a co-defendant from a physical lineup but was unable to identify Bass.

Bass was linked to the robbery and assault by a witness, Keith Thompson, who testified he saw Bass and another man running down the road from Townsend's store.

Bass had claimed he was at home the night of the robbery.

The court record showed after Bass was convicted, Thompson signed a statement saying he had lied about seeing Bass. In a later statement to police, Thompson reaffirmed his testimony and stated that he had not lied at trial.

The Innocence Project argued in Bass' second post-conviction petition that Thompson's testimony was unreliable and that Thompson was a paid police informant who expected to be paid for his testimony against Bass.

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals agreed Bass should get a new trial.

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