CATEGORY: Courts

AUTHOR: EILEEN

HED: Circuit judge to expand jury pool in Okolona murder case

By Eileen Bailey

Daily Journal

OKOLONA - Attorneys will have the chance to pull from a bigger jury pool in January when a Chickasaw County woman goes to trial for the third time for the shooting death of her husband.

District Attorney Jim Hood said he asked Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Coleman to expand the jury pool to include potential jurors from Houston in the murder case of Bridgett Elliott.

Okolona is located in the 2nd Judicial District and Houston is located in the 1st Judicial District.

On Tuesday, Coleman declared a mistrial in Elliott's case after too few jury candidates were available. Coleman said there weren't enough potential jurors to ensure a representative jury, Hood said.

The district attorney has requested a total pool of 300 jurors from Okolona and Houston to be called for the January 27, 1998, trial.

Chickasaw County is one of seven counties in the state that have split judicial districts.

Tuesday's trial was the second for Elliott, 31, of Prairie, who is accused of shooting her husband, Robert Elliott, 30, in August 1996.

In Bridgett Elliott's first murder trial, which took place at the end of July and beginning of August this year, the jury deliberated about four hours before announcing that she was not guilty in the aggravated assault of her husband's girlfriend, Donita Doss.

But the jury could not reach a decision on a manslaughter charge in the death of her husband.

Elliott was indicted by the grand jury on a murder charge. At the end of the first trial, the jury was given instructions on the charge of murder and on a lesser charge of manslaughter.

The shooting occurred on Aug. 2, 1996, on County Road 404, located off U.S. Highway 45 Alternate in the Egypt community. On that night Doss and Elliott were out together, according to testimony in the first trial.

During the night, they noticed someone was following them. Bridgett Elliott is accused of following them and repeatedly slamming her car into the car carrying Doss and her husband, Doss testified.

Doss also said Bridgett Elliott shattered the passenger side window and a shot was fired.

Bridgett Elliott testified in her first trial that she intended only to shatter the window with the barrel of the gun but not to shoot.

She said she did not intend to ram the car she was following and that Doss braked unexpectedly twice, forcing her to hit the car.

She also testified she had the gun because she was afraid of her husband, who she claimed had been abusive for the two years before his death.

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