Convicted murderer's motions denied in Jones County court

Convicted murderer's motions denied in Jones County court
Convicted murderer Justin Blakeney. Mug shot.

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Convicted murderer Justin Blakeney appeared in Jones County Circuit Court Friday where Judge Billy Joe Landrum overruled both motions presented by the defense counsel.

Blakeney was convicted of capital murder in July for the 2010 death of his girlfriends daughter Victoria Viner, 2.

Nearly five months later a pair of motions filed by Blakeney's attorneys have brought the case back to court.

One motion is for a new trial and to vacate the judgement of an execution date.

The other motion requests to have the district attorney's office recuse itself from further participation in the case.

The motion states that there's a conflict of interest since the office hired the judge's staff attorney, Kristen Martin, as their new assistant district attorney in September after J. Ronald Parrish resigned.

During the hearing, Blakeney's attorney stated that Martin has an extensive amount of knowledge from the case through her role in the court system.

Blakeney's attorney stated: "The appearance of impropriety is why the district attorney's office should be disqualified from any actions and further actions in this case."

A response from the district attorney's office referencing several past cases with similar circumstances were noted in the court record.

As judge Landrum was addressing the attorneys, Blakeney decided to voice his opinion pointing his finger at judge Landrum.

"I can't believe you are going to sit up there and say I received a fair trial," said Blakeney.

Former assistant district attorney J. Ronald Parrish addressed the court during the hearing.

"For the record to be clear, I was involved in this case from the very beginning, no one else participated in it," said Parrish.

"If there is errors in this case for the Supreme Court to send back, that's out of everyone's hands and so be it," said Parrish.

"I want the public to know he (Blakeney) had a chance after the conviction to take a life sentence," said Parrish. "It would have opened me up for criticism, but it was something I offered after the conviction, it was a chance for him to stay in prison but save his life."

Judge Landrum again instructed the defense counsel of why we are in court today.

"I'm ready to go forward with this," said Landrum. "Today we are going to make some type of decision about this case."

On the motion to recuse the district attorney's office employee Kristen Martin, Landrum overruled the motion.

Newspaper reporter Mark Thornton was called to the stand to testify on the article he wrote on August 30, 2014, which included comments J. Ronald Parrish made after the trial during an interview.

This procedure was done by the defense to make the court aware of the comments made by Parrish about "a Nazi baby killer".

Landrum also overruled the portion of the motion to recuse J. Ronald Parrish and the district attorney's office.

Blakeney's counsel stated they are not able to go forward with the other motion for a new trial.

Landrum interjected stating to present what the counsel has so he can make a ruling.

"There needs to be some final judgement issued in this matter," said Landrum.

Blakeney's counsel continued to argue their ability to move forward, resulting in subpoenas being issued for testimony from Jones County District Attorney Anthony (Tony) Buckley and J. Ronald Parrish.

Buckley was questioned about legal practices and how his office handles cases.

After his (Buckley's) testimony, Blakeney's legal counsel released Parrish from his subpoena with out testifying.

Blakeney's defense spent just under an hour stating "for the record" what they (defense counsel) do not have to go forward with the motion process.

Landrum continued to remind them, it was their responsibility to request what would be needed for a hearing.

Blakeney's counsel requested to set aside the verdict and order a new trial.

Judge Landrum stated he found no error on any part.

The motion regarding JNOV (judgement notwithstanding of verdict), a new trial and the execution date was also overruled by Landrum.

The execution date was set for Nov. 14, 2014, but do to motion hearings and other matters the date passed.

Landrum set a new execution date for April 2, 2015.