James A. McClung Jr., a Greenwood man convicted in 2017 of three counts of aggravated assault and sentenced to 60 years in prison in connection with the killing of D’Alandis Love two years before, will be returned to Leflore County Circuit Court for a new trial.

Circuit Clerk Elmus Stockstill said Wednesday he had not received official notification that the case had been remanded by the Mississippi Court of Appeals but expected it in the mail Thursday.  He did not yet know when the second trial might be scheduled.

Love died in August 2015 after gunfire broke out on U.S. 82 near Itta Bena between men in two vehicles: a red Pontiac and a light-colored Tahoe. Love and three companions were traveling in the Pontiac. The other men — Perez Love, Kelsey Jennings and Ken-Norris Stigler — were severely injured. Inside the Tahoe was Jacarius Keys of Greenwood, who said in a video made by a sheriff’s investigator  that he was driving. He implicated Armand Jones, Sedrick Buchanan, Michael Holland and McClung, all of Greenwood.  

The appellate court said Circuit Judge Ashley Hines erred by allowing the video as testimony against McClung because McClung was unable to confront his accuser. Keys was shot to death on Dec. 28, 2016, five months before the trial. The four men had been indicted in July 2016 in connection with the highway shooting.

Jones and Buchanan also appealed their convictions, but these were upheld. Jones was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder and 60 more years for the attempted murder of the three other men. Buchanan was sentenced to 60 years for aggravated assault against the same victims. Holland, who was not included in the appeal, was convicted of second-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.

In a pretrial hearing about the video’s admissibility, Jeri Bankston, then a Greenwood police sergeant, testified that she investigated Keys’ death. She reported that in another video she saw Keys running in a parking lot followed by Holland.

Buchanan was among other men in the parking lot. Jones was in jail at the time.

Bankston reported in the pretrial hearing that she did not develop McClung as a suspect in Keys’ death.

McClung, Jones, Buchanan and Holland were tried together, but only McClung was not included in the second video. The appeals court wrote that the first video with Keys’ testimony was admissible for the two others with appeals, Jones and Buchanan, because of a “forfeiture by wrongdoing” rule.

The court said the rule did not apply to McClung but to the others.

• Contact Susan Montgomery at 581-7233 or smontgomery@gwcommonwealth.com.

The original version of this article failed to specify the court which ruled on the two appeals.

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