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October 05, 2018 - 12:00 am


2nd debate is cancelled in US Senate race in Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A second U.S. Senate campaign debate in Mississippi is falling apart because two of the four candidates declined to participate.

Clarion Ledger editor Sam Hall on Friday announced cancellation of the Oct. 23 debate the newspaper was helping sponsor. This happened after cancellation of the first debate set for Thursday.

Both times, Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith said she wouldn't participate if she had to be in Washington, and Democrat Mike Espy said he wouldn't debate without Hyde-Smith. That left Republican Chris McDaniel and Democrat Tobey Bernard Bartee, and sponsors backed out.

The Thursday debate was sponsored by Millsaps College and Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

Other sponsors of the Oct. 23 debate were WLBT-TV, the League of Woman Voters and the Mississippi Bar Association.

The election is next month.


Ed secretary sees online science lessons in Mississippi

LEXINGTON, Miss. (AP) — Students in a poor part of the Mississippi Delta are receiving high-level science instruction aided by online lessons.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos went to Holmes County Central High School in Lexington on Thursday to see the Advanced Placement physics class.

Students have a classroom teacher and receive online lessons from instructors at universities, including Yale. DeVos says she wants school districts to try innovative approaches to teaching.

Tawanna Jackson, one of nine students in the physics class, tells the Greenwood Commonwealth that the blended approach provides rigor.

In the district with a 45 percent poverty rate, money problems persist.

Holmes County Superintendent James Henderson tells the Clarion-Ledger that he attended the high school 33 years ago. He says the biology labs didn't work then and are "barely working now."


Mississippi caregiver convicted in death of 75-year-old man

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a 75-year-old man for whom he had been a caregiver.

News outlets reported a Harrison County jury deliberated about three hours before returning a guilty verdict Thursday against 41-year-old Gabriel Curtis of Saucier.

Curtis had been charged with killing Willis Cassidy Jr., in April, 2017.

Curtis was also convicted on a weapons charge.

Sheriff's deputies were tipped off to go to Curtis' home where they found blood-saturated blankets. Curtis returned in Cassidy's car while deputies were at the home.

Curtis said he had unintentionally killed Cassidy during the argument and took his body to an abandoned road near the Alabama state line. Curtis testified that he feared for his life when Cassidy pulled a gun during their argument.


Police search for Mississippi woman's car after death

(Information from: The Sun Herald,

MOSS POINT, Miss. (AP) — Police in Mississippi are looking for a vehicle belonging to a woman found dead in her driveway.

The Sun Herald reported that police in Moss Point were called around 7:30 a.m. Thursday by relatives who found a woman's body in the driveway of her home.

Police Chief Brandon Ashley said there were obvious signs of trauma on the body of 58-year-old Betty J. Vaughans.

Moss Point police are searching for Vaughans' Cadillac Escalade with personalized tag, U Go BJ.

No arrests have been reported.



The Latest: Funeral held for slain Mississippi trooper

BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (AP) — Colleagues are remembering a slain Mississippi trooper as a brave man who loved family and enjoyed laughing at jokes.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports about 1,000 people attended a funeral Thursday in Corinth for 32-year-old Kenneth "Josh" Smith, a corporal in the Mississippi Highway Patrol. He was shot to death while off duty early Sunday, and a man is charged with capital murder.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant urged mourners to take care of Smith's widow and their two children.

A Highway Patrol colleague, Cpl. Gary Stanton, said the patrol uniform gave Smith "authority," but Smith already had courage.

Smith's was the third funeral for a Mississippi law enforcement officer in two days. The others Wednesday and Thursday were for Brookhaven police officers shot to death on duty early Saturday.



Food stamp fraud investigator charged with extorting stores

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A former Mississippi food stamp fraud investigator is charged with extorting money from convenience store owners who violated regulations.

The criminal charge against 52-year-old Frank Saddler of Ridgeland was filed Thursday in federal court in Jackson.

It's unclear if Saddler has a lawyer and no court appearance is scheduled. Defendants sometime plead guilty without being indicted under a plea bargain.

Prosecutors say Saddler was a Mississippi Department of Human Services branch director, investigating criminal violations of rules of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The state administers the federal program.

The charge says Saddler extorted money in 2014 and 2015 from store owners charged with criminal violations.

He faces up to 20 years in prison. Saddler would be required to pay restitution, if convicted, and prosecutors demand he forfeit any gains.

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