The case of Sharrod Moore took a shocking turn yesterday. After having one of his assistants do the dirty work of dismissing the case against Mr. Moore, DA Robert Shuler Smith met with the media outside the courthouse and alleged that "certain officers and officials" engaged in a cover-up with respect to the killing of R.J. Washington. (WJTV story here; WLBT video here.)
This is not the first time DA Smith has alleged that a cover-up was hindering his investigation. He told the Jackson Free Press almost the same thing nearly one year ago. The key difference this time is Smith's use of the word officials when assigning blame.
I remember how odd the indictment of Sharrod Moore seemed at the time, back in January of 2008. Mayor Melton's appearance before the television cameras to announce the indictment felt weird enough, considering Melton was the mayor, not the District Attorney, police chief, sheriff, etc. Furthermore, Melton was so excited about the indictment that he held the press conference before Moore was in custody, a seeming violation of Section 99-7-9, which prohibits publicity of indictments when the indicted person is not in custody.
The bone-chilling moment came, though, when Moore was being escorted through the tunnel between the Hinds County Circuit Courthouse and the Downtown Detention Facility. When asked by one of the handful of reporters following him why he was being indicted now, Mr. Moore simply replied, "Ask your mayor."
As the case progressed, things became even more surreal. First, DA Smith met secretly on several occasions with accused capital murderer Stephan Hickman and took a sworn statement from him, all without the knowledge of Hickman's counsel. Then, DA Smith saw fit to release the transcript of the statement into the public record by attaching it to a motion. The transcript tells a wild, detailed story, in which Melton is the "Prince" of the Jackson drug trade, and Sharrod is the "Knight." Both are supposedly controlled by an unnamed figure called "the Pharoah." According to Hickman, Sharrod was to make quarterly payments to Melton. Hickman goes on to tell a version of events in which Melton, Moore, and Washington are engaged in, umm...inappropriate activities. According to Hickman, Melton ordered Moore to kill Washington so as to show Moore's loyalty to Melton.
Hickman's story has largely been proven false, at least with respect to the particulars of who was present at the time of the killing of R.J. Washington. But one has to wonder, to what extent, if any, is DA Smith now looking at the deceased Melton as a player in this ordeal? After all, the word "officials" is new, and connotes some person or persons other than JPD officers.