JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Relatives of a slaying victim were outraged Wednesday when Mississippi court officials discussed possible bail for a white police officer accused of killing the black woman with whom he was romantically involved.
Oxford police officer Matthew Kinne was arrested Monday and charged with murder after 32-year-old Dominque Clayton was found shot in the back of her head Sunday. Clayton’s relatives say the mother of four had been romantically involved with Kinne.
The victim’s mother, Bessie Clayton, was one of many relatives who shouted in displeasure following a hearing for Kinne as they filed out of the Oxford courtroom into a small lobby and then onto the courthouse lawn in the town’s square.
Bessie Clayton said no black person would be considered for bail for such a crime, but prosecutors and a judge are willing to let Kinne’s defense lawyer negotiate bail for a white man.
“There is no justice for black people,” she said.
A prosecutor told Lafayette County Circuit Judge Andrew Howorth he thinks prosecutors and defense lawyers can agree on “reasonable” bail for Kinne. The officer remains jailed in neighboring Panola County for now and a decision on bail may not come until next week. It’s not uncommon for bail to be denied in murder cases in Mississippi.
Bessie Clayton also complained that Howorth laughed during the hearing.
“They are allowing the killer to decide his bond!” Bessie Clayton told reporters outside the courtroom after the hearing. “That man came through the bushes while he was on duty and walked in behind my daughter’s home, put a bullet in the back of her … head and executed her. And they laughed. They should discuss with him what his bond should be? We need help in Oxford! We need intervention in Oxford!”
Prosecutors and a defense attorney didn’t immediately return phone calls and emails seeking comment on what bail should be for Kinne.
Interim Oxford police Chief Jeff McCutcheon told reporters that he opposes bail. He said Kinne “needs to be in jail.”
“We are with the Clayton family,” McCutcheon said. “We don’t support a bond. Matthew Kinne committed murder and we don’t want him out.”
Shyjuan Clayton, the victim’s sister, told WHBQ-TV Tuesday that Kinne was having an affair with Dominique Clayton. Relatives told WHBQ-TV that Dominque Clayton’s dead body was found by her 8-year-old son on Sunday after children returned home from spending time with an uncle.
Shyjuan Clayton told reporters Tuesday that she wanted answers following Kinne’s arrest.
“We don’t want anybody to cover it up,” she said. “We want the truth out. We want justice for my sister.”
McCutcheon said Tuesday that Kinne had been a police officer in Oxford, home of the University of Mississippi, for four years. Kinne was one of several officers that Oxford relies on to police its often-crowded and touristy town square on horseback.
Kinne was arrested Monday despite a Mississippi state law that says a judge must find probable cause to arrest a police officer accused of crimes while in the line of duty. Howorth said prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed to waive a hearing examining the probable cause issue Wednesday.
“The crime of murder is always going to fall outside the duties of a law enforcement officer,” Howorth said. “I cannot imagine when it would not fall outside the duties.”
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