HED:Jury finds Amory man guilty of aggravated assault
By Eileen Bailey
ABERDEEN - A Monroe County jury took 45 minutes Monday to find an Amory man guilty in the 1994 aggravated assault of a Nettleton student.
William Earl Williams, 26, of Amory was found guilty by the jury for striking then 13-year-old John "Jay" Pollan with his car as Pollan stepped off a school bus on Sept. 9, 1994.
Circuit Court Judge Barry Ford postponed sentencing until Friday.
Assistant District Attorney Rob Coleman said he was pleased with the verdict that was delivered after one day of testimony.
"The citizens of Monroe County made a statement that they place a premium on the safety and well-being of the children, especially when they step off a stopped school bus," Coleman said.
Pollan, now a senior at Nettleton High School, said he was "glad the case is over."
"Right now I am satisfied," Pollan said.
Pollan testified during the trial that he remembered being struck by the car Williams' was driving as he stepped off the bus.
"I took about two steps when the car hit me," he said. "My arm was pretty badly hurt."
Pollan said he needed 70 stitches inside and out to the cuts to his arm.
Other witnesses recalled on the stand how they felt when they saw the car hit Pollan.
One witness was KZ105 radio personality Tom Campbell, who was returning to Tupelo after a promotional event in Amory.
Campbell said he was facing the bus on Mississippi Highway 6 and stopped when the bus put out its stop sign.
He said he saw the car approach on the right side of the bus, which also had its yellow lights flashing, along the shoulder.
"I thought, 'Oh my God, please don't let a kid get off the bus," Campbell said. He said he saw the small white car hit Pollan, sending him into the air where he landed along side the bus. Campbell said he called authorities and went to see if he could help the victim.
Too early for appeal
Defense attorney Mel Ellis of Tupelo said it was too early to tell if an appeal would be filed.
"I thought it was a tough decision to make," Ellis said. "They (the jury) had to decide if he acted recklessly under the circumstances."
Ellis contends his client passed the school bus on the right shoulder as it stopped to let a student off out of fear.
Ellis, who put on two witnesses, one of whom was Williams, said his client was afraid of another motorist who had stopped alongside the road and pulled a gun out of his car.
Williams testified he was in line behind the bus as it made stops along Highway 6. He said he noticed his cousin, Mark Taylor of Amory, attempt to pass the truck Williams was behind.
Williams testified he had not tried to pass the truck, which was driving about 50 miles per hour. He said when his cousin, who testified for the defense, tried to pass the truck, the driver also increased his speed, making it difficult for Taylor to get back in the lane.
"He (Taylor) ran Mr. (J.C.) Holland off the road," Williams said.
Holland, of Nettleton, got control of his car and got back on the road, Williams said, then turned into the driveway of his home. Williams said that was when he noticed the bus and stopped.
Williams, who then was behind Taylor, testified he looked in his rearview mirror and saw Holland take a rifle out of his truck. Williams said Holland never pointed the gun at him but he was afraid of "the expression" on Holland's face.
Because of what he saw, Williams said, he took off along the right side of the bus and didn't see Pollan until he hit him.
During the questioning of other witnesses, Coleman asked if any had reported seeing a gun. They said "no."
Ellis said Holland testified to taking the gun out of the truck.
"His testimony is important," Ellis said. "He can't deny he had the gun."