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Lawyer: Mississippi girls killed mother in self-defense

MGN Online

The following article was authored by The Associated Press.

Posted: Mar 6, 2019 10:09 AM

MAGNOLIA, Miss. (AP) — A defense lawyer suggested Tuesday that two Mississippi girls killed their mother in self-defense and that sheriff's deputies may have questioned them improperly.

"I can tell you that I anticipate my client and her sister are both going to be defended on a theory of self-defense," lawyer Greg Malta told reporters following a hearing for the 14-year-old defendant. She's charged with murder in the Jan. 4 death of her mother, Ericka Hall, near Magnolia, just north of the Louisiana state line.

Pike County Justice Court Judge Bryan Harbour found enough evidence to send the case to a grand jury, but lowered the teenager's bail to $100,000 from $150,000. She remains jailed for now.

Her 12-year-old sister is charged as a juvenile and has been released to the custody of her father.

Pike County Sheriff's Chief Investigator Chris Bell testified Tuesday that the girls confessed to planning the killing in advance, faking a knock at the front door to lure Ericka Hall from her bedroom. The 14-year-old told Bell that she stabbed Ericka Hall, then her sister shot her, and the 14-year-old stabbed her again. Her sister later found her in the grass beside her car.

"'We planned it' is what (the 14-year-old) said," Bell testified.

Ebony Hall, Ericka Hall's sister, said one of the girls tried to run over their mother in a car on New Year's Eve, four nights earlier. Ericka Hall called the sheriff's office that night complaining about "unruly children," Bell said. Deputy Alex Miller responded, testifying that Ericka Hall didn't directly tell him about the attempted rundown. Miller said he didn't call Child Protective Services or file a report, concluding both were unnecessary.

Malta suggested Ericka Hall threatened the girls, saying, "I've got a gun. I've only got two bullets but I only need two bullets."

Ebony Hall said she never heard such a statement and dismissed it as hyperbole.

"I think she was just mad," Ebony Hall said. "She was afraid, too. They tried to run her over."

Malta focused on the questioning of the girls in the early hours of Jan. 5, suggesting neither was capable of giving informed consent to Bell. The investigator testified that the 14-year-old first opened up to her father, Eddie Isaac, before repeating the story to Bell. Isaac, though, denied that after court.

"He talked to them without my consent," Isaac said.

The father said he doesn't believe the version of events put forward by authorities and Ericka Hall's relatives.

"They've got a bunch of stories and a bunch of lies and I just can't see it happening that way," Isaac said.

Under Mississippi law, children 13 and older accused of certain crimes are automatically charged as adults. Judges can later transfer cases to youth court, and Malta said he would probably seek such a transfer. However, District Attorney Dee Bates said he would oppose such a move.

"She's a 14-year-old who committed a capital offense and state law says that she's an adult," Bates said.

The teen is being held alone in a cell in the Pike County adult jail, isolated from other inmates. Bates said he didn't intend to present the case for indictment until a final autopsy is completed, a process that can take a year or longer in Mississippi because of backlogs at the state crime lab.

Isaac testified he wants to bail the 14-year-old out of jail and have her live at his house. He said he was working on raising the $10,000 needed to pay for $100,000 bail.

"Sitting in there a year or two, that isn't going to be too good," Isaac said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61125

Reported Deaths: 1711
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5269106
DeSoto332627
Madison229756
Harrison215232
Rankin214628
Jackson199434
Jones177457
Forrest164053
Washington149232
Lauderdale132988
Lee123930
Neshoba119788
Lamar112112
Oktibbeha105435
Lowndes98932
Warren96427
Scott95517
Bolivar94832
Copiah91724
Panola91211
Sunflower90822
Lafayette88111
Holmes84747
Leflore84059
Pike83232
Grenada81320
Yazoo78611
Leake76825
Lincoln74540
Pontotoc7377
Wayne73321
Simpson71227
Monroe70250
Coahoma66310
Tate65023
Marion60118
Covington58811
Adams58425
Marshall5718
Winston57115
George5475
Union53113
Newton51611
Attala49824
Tallahatchie49310
Pearl River48536
Walthall45318
Chickasaw43819
Noxubee41910
Claiborne40013
Smith38013
Calhoun3788
Jasper3768
Clay37013
Alcorn3574
Prentiss3426
Hancock33614
Tishomingo3204
Lawrence3135
Tippah31212
Yalobusha31210
Itawamba30710
Clarke30025
Montgomery2933
Tunica2786
Humphreys27111
Carroll24511
Greene22611
Quitman2251
Kemper22315
Perry2227
Amite2105
Jefferson Davis2026
Webster19912
Jefferson1936
Wilkinson18712
Sharkey1801
Stone1523
Choctaw1274
Benton1250
Franklin1162
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 89927

Reported Deaths: 1580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson11859225
Mobile9086191
Montgomery6249143
Madison501425
Tuscaloosa397463
Baldwin321023
Shelby305032
Marshall296630
Unassigned273453
Lee250540
Morgan222315
Etowah193026
DeKalb170113
Elmore160237
Calhoun15609
Walker147063
Houston131912
Dallas128823
Russell12331
St. Clair121712
Franklin119620
Limestone119613
Cullman114111
Colbert109312
Lauderdale107112
Autauga102420
Escambia97915
Talladega91813
Jackson8283
Chambers82138
Tallapoosa81478
Dale78520
Butler75235
Blount7363
Chilton7106
Coffee7095
Covington70920
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55224
Marion54224
Marengo52014
Clarke4869
Hale45926
Bullock43811
Perry4294
Winston42911
Wilcox4059
Monroe3914
Randolph38810
Bibb3743
Conecuh37310
Pickens3679
Sumter36118
Lawrence3100
Washington31011
Macon30913
Crenshaw2863
Choctaw27412
Henry2453
Cherokee2427
Greene24211
Geneva2320
Clay2175
Lamar1982
Fayette1745
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
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