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Suspect’s Attorney: Hearing to ‘Shed Light’ on Hatchie Bottom Trooper Shooting

Troy Anthony Eaton

By Josh Mitchell

Corinth Today News Editor

A preliminary hearing has been set for Nov. 15 for the man charged with capital murder in the shooting of an off-duty Mississippi Highway Patrol trooper, the suspect’s attorneys said Thursday.

The hearing is for Troy Anthony Eaton, 43, of Rienzi, who is charged with capital murder in the Sept. 30 shooting of off-duty MHP Trooper Josh Smith, 32, in Tippah County’s Big Hatchie Bottom.

Jamie Franks, one of Eaton’s attorneys, said the hearing should “shed some light on what happened that night.” The hearing will give Eaton an opportunity to show that his actions were done defending himself and others, Franks added.

The affidavit against Eaton says Smith was acting in an official capacity as a law enforcement officer when Eaton allegedly shot him. The affidavit also alleges that Eaton “knew” Smith was acting in an official law enforcement capacity at the time of the shooting.

Several issues are scheduled to be discussed at the hearing including subpoenas that Eaton’s attorneys would like to have issued to obtain many documents. The attorneys are seeking a toxicology report on Smith, his employment file and other “pertinent” information, said Eaton’s other attorney, Bill Wheeler.

The state has filed a motion to quash the subpoenas, saying they do not conform to the Mississippi Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Wheeler said the state needs to turn over the information sought in the subpoenas so Eaton can have a “fair hearing under due process.”

The subpoenas do not seek anything “out of the ordinary,” said Wheeler, adding that the information should be “out in the light of day.” Circuit Court Judge John Gregory is expected to decide whether the subpoenas will be issued, the attorneys added.

The state has the burden of proof to show it has probable cause in the hearing, said Franks.

During the hearing, witnesses can be presented and cross-examined. A number of outcomes are possible from the preliminary hearing such as Eaton being released due to a lack of probable cause, Eaton’s charge being reduced from capital murder or the court finding there is probable cause for the capital murder charge to proceed.

A bond hearing may also be held since Eaton has currently been held in jail for a month without bond, Franks noted.

The hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. in Union County before Judge Gregory. While the hearing will be held in Union County, it will actually be in Tippah County Circuit Court.

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