Clarion-Ledger from Jackson, Mississippi on November 1, 1987 · Page 15
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Clarion-Ledger from Jackson, Mississippi · Page 15

Jackson, Mississippi
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 1, 1987
Page 15
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ate- Metro B DEATHS - 2 HOMETOWN, MISSISSIPPI - 3 Gfte (tlarioii'Jfhiaer DXIlyNews November , 1987 Sunday Proposed amendments Amendment No. 1: Allows people to leave all or part of estates to civic, religious or educational institutions. Amendment No. 2: Repeals provision allowing Legislature to abolish public schools. Amendment No. 3: Repeals provision banning interracial marriages. Amendment No. 4: Removes special University of Mississippi trustee from state College Board. Amendment No. 5: Requires candidates for House of Representatives to live in district they want to serve. Amendment No. 6: Allows judges to deny bail in serious crimes when there is proof the defendant might be dangerous or jump bail before trial. Amendment No. 7: Eliminates constitutional language regulating transportation companies. Amendment No. 8: Repeals provision limiting private corporate charters to 99 years. Amendment No. 9: Gives stockholders more flexibility in voting for members of the board of directors. Amendment No. 10: Repeals provision requiring all private corporate charters to be recorded in chancery clerks' offices in counties where principal offices are located. Amendments won't perfect dated Constitution By HAYES JOHNSON Clarion-Ledger Staff Writer Proponents of a constitutional convention say voters shouldn't be fooled into thinking that the 10 amendments on Tuesday's ballot will clear the 1890 Constitution of all its flaws. But the same supporters said waning public pressure on lawmakers might mean that amendments are the only way to modernize the state's charter. "The people who really pushed these constitutional amendments in the Legislature did so in order to present an image to the public that the constitution could be amended and a convention is not necessary," said state Rep. John Reeves of Jackson. "Many of the things that are being changed have already been banned by the courts. To remove them from the constitution and say that you're doing something tremendous is really not accurate." Secretary of State Dick Molpus agreed. "These are just horse and buggy items from the 19th century that have no place in the 1980s," Molpus said. "They hardly go at the core of the way government is organized in the state." Molpus wants to see the constitution completely rewritten, but this fall he is leading the push for passage of four business- related amendments that would remove anti-business language and intent from the old document. Other amendments would clear the document of archaic provisions for state-sanctioned racial segregation. One amendment would repeal the constitution's ban on interracial marriages; another would take away the Legislature's right to close public schools. An amendment being pushed by Attorney General Ed Pitt-man and other legal officials would give judges the right to deny bail for defendants in serious crimes when the judges have proof that the accused might harm someone or skip bail before trial. "These were just issues that needed to be taken care of in a timely fashion," said state Sen. George Guerieri of Southa-ven, who served last year as chairman of the Senate Constitution Committee and supports a convention. "There was no intent on my part to begin an amendment process," Guerieri said. "If a constitutional convention was appropriate a year ago, I think it's still appropriate today." However, supporters of the amendment route to constitutional reform said that if voters can adopt 10 amendments at a time, they can revise the whole constitution by amendment. "We've had this damn thing for 97 years and they've lived with those stupid provisions for that long," said outgoing Sen. Henry Kirksey, who is a candidate for lieutenant governor. "So why are people getting so up in arms about a new constitution when they don't enforce the one they've got?" Another supporter of amending the constitution is Rep. Charlie Williams of Senatobia, a member of the House Constitution Committee. He pushed to get the amendments on Tuesday's ballot. "I think we can do this same sort of process, probably two more times, and clean up our constitution to the point that it would accomplish 90 percent of what could be accomplished in a convention," Williams said. "And we would save a lot of money and a lot of severe political fallout," Williams said. Molpus thinks just the opposite. The secretary of state said the amendment process is both painfully slow and expensive. "We have 10 amendments that cost over $27,000 to be published in the various newspapers across the state," he said. "To change the whole 1890 Constitution in this manner, we would be just looking at the tip of the iceberg here." Officials have estimated that a convention would cost state and county governments about $3 million. See Amendments, 3B G t $E. " j 5V fit At V 4W i i 1 -ic, "i"S,t V ' . c J" , , v. -Cs Extradition battle recalls Natchez death The lives of 2 imprisoned men, 1,200 miles apart, arc intertwined Audrey Cotton, left, and Hervious Cotton, both of Natchez, talk about their son, Jarvious, who is fighting extradition from New MICHAEL BARRETTThe Clarion-LedgerJackson Daily News York to face a capital-murder trial in Mississippi. He is charged in the 1982 slaying of Robert Irby of Natchez. Family of accused faces ongoing struggle By DEBORAH SKIPPER Clarion-Ledger Staff Writer NATCHEZ Audrey Cotton combs through cardboard boxes of newspaper clippings, court records and trial transcripts that have carved her existence since her son was charged with capital murder 5 Vt years ago. The family was at home the day the authorities came and arrested Jarvious Cotton, then 20, on charges of armed robbery and capital murder in the March 12, 1982, slaying of Robert Irby, 17, of Natchez. Five months after his arrest, Jarvious Cotton escaped from the Natchez City Jail and fled to New York City, where he lived and worked until his capture March 11. "We really don't know what happened," Audrey "Two weeks after Jarvious was arrested, our in surance company dropped us. We'd only made one claim in 1975." The family finally got homeowner's insurance from a company in Jackson, said Hervious Cotton, Jarvious' father. Then Audrey Cotton was arrested in her son's es-cape. Convicted of accessory after the fact to capital murder, she was sentenced to five years, served six months in the Adams County Jail and was placed on probation. "They hand-picked the jury and they were not my peers," she maintains. "Could you see me sitting down at a table with the president of the pilgrimage garden club? With her white and me black? No way!" She still maintains her innocence, charging as he'd just go," his mother said. "He wanted to travel, to wander around. He'd be gone three, four, five days." The behavior lasted from age 7 to 12 or 13, she said. "He'd have himself a garden and cook hobo style," she said. "He'd built a house in the woods." She describes him the fourth of her 10 children as enterprising. "He went into the bicycle business," she said. "All you had to do is buy the parts and he'd fix it for a quarter, 50 cents, whatever. "We always had a garden. He'd pick the tomatoes and sell them." With the money, he'd buy his parents presents: stuffed animals for his mother and for his father a ceramic statue etched with the words "My Dad. By DEBORAH SKIPPER Clarion-Ledger Staff Writer NATCHEZ Jarvious Cotton is waiting in a New York jail, enmeshed in legal maneuvers to block his extradition to Mississippi on a capital murder charge while he goes to school and maintains his innocence. At the State Penitentiary at Parch-man, Terry Kewayne Johnson is locked in a maximum-security unit while serving a life sentence for murder. Johnson fingered Cotton as the trigger man in the slaying of 17-year-old Robert Irby of Natchez, the son of a prominent banker. The lives of these two men locked in cells some 1,200 miles apart are inextricably intertwined. The case is muddied by various versions of events on the night of March 12, 1982, Cotton's years as a fugitive after escaping the Natchez jail and Johnson's contention that he was shafted in an agreement to plea to a lesser charge. Should Cotton, now 26, lose his fight against extradition to Mississippi, Johnson's testimony at trial would be key. Cotton, if found guilty, could be sentenced to death. Adams County District Attorney Alonzo Sturgeon had expected to try Cotton by the November term of court. Despite Cotton's extradition fight, Sturgeon said he still expects to have Cotton back for trial in a month or two, though New York authorities say Cotton's appeals could easily continue into next year. In a recent interview at Parchman, Johnson, 21, gav e these remembrances of March 1982. "When we was hanging together, I put my education with his street knowledge," said Johnson, who was 15 and a lOth-grader when the crime occurred. Newspaper accounts of that night 5Vi years ago say two black assailants accosted a small group of people in an alley near the Natchez City Auditorium following a pilgrimage pageant and robbed them. One of the men had a gun. Irby, a Cathedral High School football star, chased the robbers. He was shot and killed. Johnson said Cotton leveled the gun at Irby and fired three times. Two shots struck Irby in his legs. The third the one Johnson says was the fatal shot hit Irby below the ear. "He wants to be a hero," Johnson quoted Cotton as saying of Irby. "There's another dead soldier." Johnson said that after the robbery and shooting, a third man Anthony Gerald Jackson drove the getaway car to Vidalia, La., where they split the money. Authorities put their take at $22, but Johnson said he doesn't know how much it was because he was high on codeine and marijuana. "We went to Baton Rouge and stayed the night," he said. A couple of weeks after the shooting, Johnson said, a man overheard him, Cotton and Jackson talking about the crime and encouraged him to go to the police. "I wanted to leave the state," Johnson said. See Cotton, 3B Cotton muses. does her son that she was convicted as a ruse to He's my best friend." . w : l f She is clear about what happened after her son's get him back to Natchez. Jarvious Cotton said he At 17, Jarvious Cotton had his first real brush . ft "J. arrest, though. didn't learn of his mother's arrest and conviction with the law when he was convicted of burglary as v . , TJil "Someone threw a brick or rock and broke a win- until after FBI agents arrested him March 11. anadult. v.'-7 ff 4.M . dow (in the house)," she said. "They'd drive up in the The picture authorities paint of Audrey and Her- "While we were talking to the judge," Audrey 4 -f' ' driveway and point a searchlight through the win- vious Cotton's son is in sharp contrast to their own. Cotton recalled, "Jarvious escaped. He was scared 1 dow panes. My husband had us crawl into the hall As a youngster, the couple acknowledges, he ran I 1 lum mm rfi mm '""M"'" where there were no windows. away constantly. "If he felt like going someplace, See Family, 3B TERRY JOHNSON JARVIOUS COTTON Rules of road may not change, but drivers may with time Don Reichelderfer is on the road to safer driving. r ?; ""wfi takes the 55 Alive course. Although the specific reduction is ganizations, 55 Alive programs are available in Jacksc This 71-year-old state coordinator of Mississippi's 55 AH- " not outlined by law, Reichelderfer says many companies are Clarksdale, Southaven, Tupelo, Meridian, Biloxi, Gulf po; veMature Driving Program crisscrosses the state organiz- ' " . offering 10 percent discounts. Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian. Hattiesburg and Laurel a ing classes to improve senior citizens' driving skills. "i ' RCuCCCd Reichelderfer recognizes that elderly drivers who refuse scheduling classes. "I decided if I could just help save one person's life by re- fS" r r J a J to admit impaired driving abilities are a problem for many Dewey Blackledge, vocational educationcommunity ed minHinothpmnf thinuc thfv hart fnruntten it would he worth- b. - .? A-ll7 fflt11C families. minding them of things they had forgotten, it would be worth while," Reichelderfer says. When we were younger, there were things we did unconsciously. But with age, our reflexes have slowed. We've got to be on our p's and q's all the time now." The program sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons takes its name from a safety statistic. "Fifty-five has been determined to be the age when persons generally start having health problems," says Reichelderfer, a Clarksdale resident. "It sounds awful to describe it that way, but that's when we reach our peak and start to come back down. "Our hearing, muscle coordination, vision all begin deteriorating about then," he says. "This p -ogram alerts us to deficiencies and teaches us to compensate." For Gladys Vickers, who took the course about three months ago in Jackson't was like studying scfipture. . "f'Tne same way wefuad the Bible over nwl over and always get something better and different each time, the Vf ' Recca J ff Hood-Adams P ; Columnist i The Clarion-Ledger course draws our attention back to something we'd known, but maybe forgotten," says the former state employee retired on disability. She declines to give her age, but hastens to point out that despite the program's name, anyone 50 years old is eligible. "One reason I took it was that a lot of insurance companies are encouraging older persons to do so," says Vickers, who hasn't been plagued by accidents that might mandate such instruction, but welcomes the rate reduction her company offers. The Legislature pafed a bill last session that requires insurance companies to offer lower rates to everyone who families. "It's hard to tell mother or father they are no longer fit to drive," he says. "It just does something to them, destroys their will and confidence." He tells of a 90-year-old friend who "would just give up on life if they took her car away." "It's a 4-year-old car and only has about 4,000 miles on it," he says. "She just drives it a few blocks to church and the grocery. But it's a matter of independence and ego. We know our families are telling us for our own good to be careful, but it's not an easy subject to take up." He says the organization doesn't support mandatory re-testing before renewing senior drivers' licenses. "Some people age faster than others," he says. "It depends on their attitude. Some people reach a certain age and just decide to fallypart. Others desire to live more, see mQK, learn more now yiat they're retired." T Through AARP and co-sponsoring community service or ganizations, 55 Alive programs are available in Jackson, Clarksdale, Southaven, Tupelo, Meridian, Biloxi, Gulfport, Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian. Hattiesburg and Laurel are Dewey Blackledge, vocational educationcommunity edu cation director for the Laurel School District, says six classes one each month will be offered there beginning in January. Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg will co-sponsor a class after the first of the year in conjunction with its Preferred Care 65 Program, says education instructor Sammy McGee. The refresher course in defensive driving will be held four hours per day for two days. The cost is $7 per person, although in some communities, organizations defray that expense. Anyone interested in enrolling or in arranging for such a course to be taught in their locale may contact Reichelderfer at P.O. Box 776, Clarksdale, Miss., 38614. Or phone 627-3332. "A lot of older people, especially widows, are scared to death to travel on the freeway," he says. "The fast traffic and all the cars frighten them. Pjjt there's no need to sacrifi your independence or your sawty to age, "You're never too old to learn."

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