Daily Journal

TUPELO – A Tupelo woman was formally charged with capital murder Friday morning for the May killing of her boyfriend.

Leah Bishop, 45, was arraigned in Lee County Circuit Court on the indictment handed down by the grand jury on Sept. 25. Bishop did not speak to Judge Paul Funderburk during the brief court session. She entered a plea of not guilty through her attorney, Lori Basham.

Bishop is accused of killing Jessie Traylor, 65, on Sunday, May 17, and leaving his body in the 1807 Rollingwood Drive home that police said the couple had shared for about two weeks. Tupelo police discovered Traylor three days later after getting a call from the Jones County Sheriff’s Office, who found Bishop’s lengthy, handwritten manifesto in Laurel. She reportedly confessed in the 21-page document.

The same night Traylor was found, Bishop was arrested in Winnsboro, Louisiana, after she was stopped at a roadblock for a suspended driver’s license. She was returned to Lee County days later and charged with capital murder.

She has remained in jail since May under a $1 million bond. Friday, Funderburk ordered her held without bond on the recommendation of the state. Assistant District Attorney Josh Wise said the state is seeking the death penalty in the case. Officials said it could be up to 18 months before the case goes to trial.

In a separate arraignment before Funderburk, Billy Copeland, 59, was charged with murder. He is accused of the April stabbing death of Tomika Morris in a room at the Motel 6 on McCullough Boulevard in Tupelo.

According to police, Copeland and Morris had a stormy long-term relationship that had included multiple assaults by both. Morris was discovered around 8 p.m. on April 23. Copeland was captured the following morning on Robert E. Lee Drive.

He was initially held under a $1 million bond. Following Friday’s arraignment, the court set his bond at $100,000. His attorney Adam Pickard said it was unlikely Copeland or his family would be able to raise that amount.

Copeland’s murder trial is scheduled for the February term of Lee County Circuit Court.

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