Man acquitted in Ripley shootings, drug bust

By Jane Clark Summers

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

RIPLEY - A federal jury has found a Tennessee man not guilty of a triple shooting, drugs and weapons charges. Four other men involved in the drug bust in Tippah County had already entered guilty pleas.

After the three-day trial this week, the jury found Michael Woody, 22, of Grand Junction, Tenn., not guilty of shooting three men and of illegal drugs and weapons charges.

Woody and four other men were arrested following the April 25, 2000, incident at a remote Tippah County cabin where a drug deal was supposed to take place. All five men were subsequently charged with either drugs and/or weapons possession.

Law enforcement officials investigating the crime said the drug deal went sour and turned into an attempted robbery. Three men were seriously injured by gunfire.

Officers alerted to the shootings found 50 pounds of marijuana and a quantity of crystal meth on the premises.

Woody was accused of traveling from Grand Junction with Chauncy Hayes, 23, also of Grand Junction, and the two were alleged to have been cocaine and marijuana traffickers.

Hayes and the other three men involved in the case, Bobby Ray Taylor, 26, of Pocahontas, Tenn., and Kerry Mullins and Roy Wardlow, both of Tippah County, entered guilty pleas prior to Woody's trial.

Three of the men testified at trial as well as various members of law enforcement.

Agencies participating in the investigation were the Mississippi Highway Patrol Criminal Investigation Bureau, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, the Tippah County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Woody, who was represented by Rob Lahore of the Langston Law Firm in Booneville, said Hayes tricked him into going to Mississippi with him. "The case was extremely prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office, however, my client maintained his innocence from the beginning," Laher said. "I believe that through the testimony, the jury understood that this was a good young man who had been falsely led into a very bad place."

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