Cold case contingency request granted

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Nearly two decades have passed since Kimberly Rowell was murdered. Recently, the attorney general's office has requested to revisit the cold case and it was granted.

Rowell was murdered in 1993 in Marion County. She was found with nine gunshot wounds on Columbia Primary school's playground beside her neatly folded pile of clothes. Rowell's alleged killers Howard Polk Junior, who has passed on, and James "Duke" Polk were charged with capital murder in 1993. In 1997, the charges were dismissed.  Duke Polk was then indicted by the attorney general's office on capital murder charges in 2012.

The attorney general's office first contingency request set a motion hearing date on March 10, but due to lack of witness availability it was moved to Thursday, August 27. Polk was then transported from Marion County to Pearl River County for the pretrial motion hearings.

Judge Prentiss Harrell proceeded the motion hearing. Attorney General Marvin Sanders is prosecuting the case. Defense Attorneys Tommy Schwartz and John Howell will represent Duke Polk. Witnesses say that Polk wore a bullet proof vest during the entire trial, but there was no disruption during trial.

The defense council brought forth two motions during the hearing. The first motion was to dismiss for lack of speedy trial. After the hearing the evidence and taking it into consideration Judge Harrell denied the motion to dismiss. Therefore, the trial will go forward on September 15. The second motion was a motion in limine pretrial motion to have because the attorney general's office stated that the forensic pathologist Emily Ward is "unavailable" to testify and that another forensic pathologist Dr.Lavaughn would testify as to Ward's report. Judge Harrell granted that motion in part that Dr. Lavaughn's testimony is limited to Ward's report. However, he will take timely objections during trial.

Although the murder did occur in Marion County the trial will be held in Pearl River County. The change of venue was granted from Marion County to Pearl River County, so it would be unaffected from media, attention, speculation, and ill will that surrounded the death of Kimberly Rowell.