JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The attorney for prominent Jackson business owner Greta Bully is fighting to get her charges and any evidence dropped in that murder case, citing documents that paint a picture of a crime scene that could have been compromised, a victim whose toxicology raises questions and a murder charge that could end up being justifiable.
Attorney Dennis Sweet III said in court motions filed over several days that there isn’t enough evidence to even charge with murder by deliberate design, drive-by shooting or evidence tampering.
Mississippi College School of Law professor Matt Steffey said getting a judge to do that would be an uphill climb for a defense attorney.
“To dismiss a case requires convincing a judge that under no reasonable view of the evidence, no reasonable jury could convict beyond a reasonable doubt," Steffey said.
That’s because -- in part -- Sweet doesn’t deny Bully shot and killed 65-year-old Larry Lee outside her liquor store on April 24.
Sweet does, however, claim Bully defended herself on her property, citing the Castle Doctrine, and a toxicology report shows Lee had alcohol and cocaine in his system that night.
Steffey argues that premise is for a jury, not a judge, to decide.
“A person has to act in self defense from a reasonable fear for themselves, and it’s trials that tell us that, not a pre-trial motion,” Steffey said.
Court filings show three Hinds County constables, including John Brown -- Bully’s father -- inside the crime scene that April night.
JPD officers reported having to ask them to leave so investigators could do their job.
Sweet said that means evidence may have been tainted and if charges aren’t dropped, that evidence should be suppressed.
“Maybe the police acted improperly, maybe the prosecutors overcharged the matter, ignoring the Castle Doctrine and ignoring some key facts about the case. The idea is to raise doubts in the minds of everyone," Steffey said.
Sweet declined an on-camera interview because he was out of town on another court case, but released a statement to 3 On Your Side about the case.
“We’re looking forward to her day in court. There’s been a lot of conjecture and speculation and allegations, which are just simply untrue. And there’s no evidence of it,” Sweet said over the phone. “And it’s put out by people who are interested in, I guess, getting news or getting attention. But it’s important to let the system play, let the evidence play out, and it’s important for people to get their fair day, unbiased day, in court.”
Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens declined to comment on the specifics of the motion, citing Mississippi’s Rules of Professional Conduct that prohibit such discussions in public.
He also said his comments could subject Bully to prejudice, and said Sweet’s motions would be answered in future court filings.
“The Jackson Police Department investigated this matter and arrested the defendant on multiple charges. The Hinds County Grand Jury indicted the defendant on multiple charges,” Owens said in a text message. “The District Attorney’s Office is following our constitution and statutory mandate to prosecute crimes committed within our jurisdiction.”