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Talisha Butler is home, free on bond

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Left to right: Talisha Butler's sons Mikhyd Sylvester and Eric Sylvester Jr, daughter Sache Milan Johnson and Butler. (Photo courtesy Latrika Butler)

Wednesday afternoon, Talisha Butler shot the father of her child in the middle of a parking lot in front of witnesses. She left the scene and called 911 to say she had shot Christopher Johnson.

The area quickly filled with people. Onlookers, police, firefighters and medics took up every available space, and traffic on Clay Street slowed because of the congestion.

In the parking lot behind Boston Fish Market lay Johnson’s body. He had bled out and first responders could do little beyond verifying that his heart had stopped. His body lay as if he had fallen out of the gray sedan he’d been sitting in. It was partially on the pavement and he was covered in a white sheet. His legs were shaded by the open door of the car. One foot was exposed showing a bright orange shoe.

Sache Milan Johnson and Talisha Butler. (Photo courtesy Latrika Butler)

Butler turned herself in at the Vicksburg Police Department after a conversation with Police Chief Milton Moore. She began this journey with the justice system being booked and processed.

Thursday at 1 p.m. Butler went before Vicksburg Municipal Judge Angela Carpenter. Butler’s mother and Johnson’s mother walked in together, and they sat next to each other.

Attorney Mike Bonner represented Butler in her legal fight. Thursday’s hearing was to formally charge Butler and set her bond. She was shaking and sobbing, her head dropped to her chest, and she seemed barely able to breathe. Her mother leaned forward several times trying to catch her daughter’s eye, maybe just to offer a comforting look. Johnson’s mom had a distant look — her world had been turned upside down.

Mikhyd Sylvester and Eric Sylvester Jr. with their mother Talisha Butler. (Photo courtesy Latrika Butler)

The charge was murder in the first degree, and Carpenter set her bond at $500,000. Butler’s head dropped even farther when Carpenter announced the amount. To be home until trial meant coming up with $50,000 in cash.

While writing this story, the news broke that Butler’s bond had been reduced to $50,000 by Warren County Judge Marcie Southerland. There were no objections from District Attorney Ricky Smith. That is an extremely rare event, and it happened unusually fast.

“There are mitigating factors,” Smith said, “and she also has a 1-year-old at home.” Butler is the mother of three, two boys and a baby girl.

With that extraordinary development, Butler had to raise $5,000 instead of the $50,000 she needed just a couple of hours earlier. She was home by 1:30 p.m. Friday.

Talisha Butler and Paige Marie Moore. (Photo courtesy Latrika Butler)

Paige Marie Moore has known Butler— or “Tuh” as she calls her — for years. They would often go out together along with their mutual friend Blair Thornton. When Moore heard about the shooting and Johnson’s death, she wanted to help.

Moore set up a Go Fund Me account to help her friend raise money for bail and legal expenses.

“This is not how she wanted it to go,” Moore wrote. “She has made several attempts to contact the authorities, and handle it the civil way. Not only is she facing serious jail time, but she will also live with this for the rest of her life. She will have to look at her baby, and explain to her one day how and why this happened. No one should ever have to be in this situation.”

“Tuh has always been one who would give the shirt off her back, make you laugh, and help anyone who needed it,” she added. “I ask that you please make a donation to help bring her home to her children and help them through this long battle ahead. They have been through so much, and this is only the beginning. Also, prayers! We can’t get enough of them at this time. We thank you all in advance, God bless.”

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Monday’s I-20 crash in Louisiana claims the life of a Texas man

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On Monday, Oct. 12, shortly after 8 p.m., Louisiana State Police Troop F responded to a crash on Interstate 20 near milepost 182 in Madison Parish. The crash claimed the life of a man from Fort Worth, Texas.

The initial investigation revealed a 2018 Chevrolet Silverado, driven by 41-year-old Nathan Ribelin of Fort Worth, Texas, was traveling eastbound on Interstate 20. For reasons still under investigation, the Silverado rear-ended a 1999 International 18-wheeler that was stopped for traffic. After impact, the International 18-wheeler struck the rear of a 2008 Ford F-350 that was also stopped. Ribelin, who was properly restrained, was transported to a hospital where he later died because of his injuries.

A toxicology sample was obtained and submitted for analysis. The crash, which shut down the eastbound lanes of the interstate for several hours, remains under investigation.

To date in 2020, Troop F has investigated 38 fatal crashes resulting in 40 deaths.

 

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Governor announces two MS Board of Ed appointments

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Gov. Tate Reeves announced two Mississippi State Board of Education appointments Tuesday: Angela Bass from Jackson and Glen East from Gulfport. The appointees reflect the Governor’s commitment to continuous improvement in education.

“Mississippi’s children deserve our steadfast commitment to improving education. We must continue to improve outcomes for these students without fear of upsetting the status quo. I am confident that Angela and Glen will serve with honor and represent the interest of parents, teachers and — most importantly — students. Their achievement has to be our top priority,” Reeves said in a statement.

Dr. Angela Bass served as a Teach for America corps member and studied education policy and management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, later becoming a teacher in both the Tunica and Desoto County school districts and an administrator at the KIPP Memphis Collegiate High School. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Mississippi Early Learning Alliance.

Mr. Glen East serves as the Superintendent of the Gulfport School District. The district represents 10 schools and approximately 5,800 students. It has been designated an Excellence for All School District.

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MS Dept. of Agriculture offering organic certification cost-share program

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The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce is offering a cost-share program for Mississippi organic producers and handlers receiving certification or continuation of certification by a United States Department of Agriculture accredited certifying agent, Commissioner Andy Gipson announced Tuesday.

“This is a great opportunity for farmers that have received the USDA Organic Certification in the past year to help offset some of the costs associated with this certification,” Gipson said in a statement, “I am glad that we are able to offer this program again for 2020, and I encourage our farmers to take advantage of this opportunity during these unprecedented times.”

Funding is available for those who received the certification between Oct. 1, 2019, and Sept. 30, 2020. Individual organic operators are eligible for reimbursement of 50% of their fiscal year 2020 certification costs up to a maximum of $500 per category of certification. The National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program currently recognizes the following categories of certification eligible for reimbursement: crops, wild crops, livestock and handler.

To be eligible for reimbursement, the following must be provided to MDAC by applicants: proof of certification issued by a USDA accredited certifying agent, a reimbursement form, an itemized invoice for certification-related expenses, an IRS W-9 form and documentation of the payment in the form of a canceled check. Applicants must be Mississippi organic producers and handlers located within the State of Mississippi. Funds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis until the funds are depleted. Operations may receive one reimbursement per year. The deadline to submit applications is Dec. 15, 2020.

For more information about this program or to obtain an application, visit the MDAC website or contact Susan Lawrence at [email protected] or 601-213-7542.

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