Victim's family speaks on Palmetto murder suspect who was free after prior murder charge

A victim's family is mourning the death of their 66-year-old grandmother.

Posted: Dec 11, 2018 11:00 PM
Updated: Dec 12, 2018 9:17 AM

LEE COUNTY, Miss. (WTVA) - A victim's family is mourning the death of their 66-year-old grandmother.

Meanwhile, the Lee County sheriff reveals documents on why the suspected shooter, who was already charged in a prior murder, was out free to begin with.

“I was looking out the window, I thought it was my homeboy, but it wasn’t. It was Latavious Betts," said Alvin Walton, who was injured in the Palmetto drive-by shooting last Friday.

Walton was at his grandmother's house on County Road 45 when those fatal shots rang out. He was shot in the leg, and his hip was shattered.

According to Sheriff Jim Johnson, suspected shooter Betts should not have been out of jail in the first place.

Betts was charged in April for murder, then never went before a judge for an initial appearance, according to authorities. A $50,000 bond was set, which was not approved by a judge. He bonded out.

A few months later in July, Johnson details that Betts was charged in another shooting in Verona. The judge, in that case, set a bond at $50,000 for an aggravated assault charge.

“The previous charge of murder and him being out on bond should have been brought to the attention of the court," said Johnson. "The judge at that time and the district attorney’s office could have been involved in petitioning the court to hold this individual without bond until court.”

Johnson said Tuesday that several documents were not signed either by himself or a judge involving Bett's April murder case. Meanwhile, the victim's family says the shooting had to do with money.

“I’m hearing that he said he owes some guys, and after that, I’m hearing that my mom gave him the money to pay these guys and he didn’t give it to them," said Ricky Jones, the victim's son. "They called and asked where he at. He said at his momma’s house.”

Other family members say they want justice in their grandmother's slaying that could have been avoided.

“Obviously, Verona couldn’t have been doing their job because if they were doing their job and did the proper paperwork, he (Betts) wouldn't have been going and this would have never happened.”

Verona Police Chief J.B. Long did not immediately respond to multiple phone calls from WTVA on Tuesday about Betts.

A candlelight vigil, family says, is scheduled for victim Annie Walton this Sunday.

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