After hearing arguments for and against self-defense in a shooting in a Wal-Mart parking lot, McComb City Judge Shequeena McKenzie ruled that Summit Councilwoman Pauline Monley’s felony assault charge will go to a grand jury.
McComb police charged Monley with aggravated assault in December after a viral social media video and store surveillance footage showed Monley allegedly firing a handgun at Lillian Martin and striking Sherry Guy with her hand in the parking lot of the McComb store.
Detective Delre Smith testified at Monley’s preliminary hearing Wednesday that Monley didn’t act in self-defense.
Smith testified Monley had time to leave before her argument with Martin and Guy got physical.
Smith reviewed the statements he obtained from all three women and said they were mostly consistent with the video footage of the fight and shooting.
Guy and Martin were shopping at Wal-Mart on Nov. 28 and happened to see Monley, who had been friends with Martin.
Guy said Monley told her and Martin to stop messing with her, and they saw her leave the store, re-enter and leave again as they were about to walk out, Smith testified.
Monley told Smith that when she saw the pair in the store, she heard Martin say she ought to attack Monley.
Monley said she re-entered the store to get a money order and heard Martin say it again.
Smith said Wal-Mart’s video surveillance showed all three women leave the store, with Monley ahead of Martin and Guy before turning around and approaching them. At that point, a verbal exchange led to Monley touching Guy’s head with her fingertip.
Martin is then seen striking Monley, who falls to one knee, pulls a handgun, stands back up and appears to fire toward Martin, who was running in the direction of the store.
The video shows Monley returning the gun to her pocket, approaching Guy and allegedly striking her.
“Even though things were said, she had an opportunity to leave,” Smith said. “Based on the video, Ms. Monley had the opportunity to leave the area.”
Smith said the video shows her walk past Martin and Guy’s vehicle before returning to speak to them and ultimately firing the gun.
Monley’s defense attorney, Dennis Sweet IV, insisted that the matter was self-defense and Monley had a right to stand her ground.
He pointed out an inconsistency in Guy’s statement to Smith, that she said Monley struck her in the parking lot first when she actually only placed her finger on her head.
He presented a statement from a witness at the scene who saw some of the argument before the shooting and said that Martin and Guy appeared to be the aggressors.
Sweet also showed McKenzie, Smith and city prosecutor Angela Miller photos of Monley’s injuries, her medical records from a Nov. 29 hospital visit and photos which Sweet alleged were online posts Guy and Martin made mocking Monley.
“It’s a classic case of self-defense,” Sweet said in his closing statement.
Miller maintained that the prosecution had shown probable cause.
“She had every opportunity to leave, because she had left,” Miller said. “Regardless of the physical altercation, she fired the weapon.”
Guy and Martin have filed a misdemeanor assault charge against Monley, who likewise filed the same charge against Guy and Martin for their role in the fight.
While both of those charges were also on the docket in McComb Municipal Court on Wednesday, neither moved forward after Monley’s preliminary hearing led to her case being bound over to the grand jury.
Monley pleaded the Fifth Amendment, asking not to testify regarding her misdemeanor assault charge due to the ongoing felony case.
Miller declined to act as prosecutor in Monley’s charges against Guy and Martin due to a concern that representing two different positions in the same matter would be a conflict of interest.
Monley, who said she intends to seek re-election to the Summit Town Council this year, is free on bond.