Family of victim wants answers in Jan. 24 shooting death

Family of victim wants answers in Jan. 24 shooting death
Family members of Kiana Singleton want answers following her January 24 death. (Source: Cortez Singleton)

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The family of a woman who was allegedly killed over a parking space wants answers after finding out one of the suspects was out on bond and in violation of her curfew when the shooting happened.

On Jan. 24, Kiana Singleton was gunned down following an apparent dispute over a parking space at the M-Bar Sports Grill in North Jackson.

The suspect in the case, Augena Funchess, is being charged with murder and was given a $1.25 million bond.

At the time, Funchess was out on a $50,000 bond in connection with a 2019 murder charge in Clinton.

Funchess also was apparently in violation of her curfew.

The Jan. 24 incident occurred just before 3 a.m. However, court records show as a condition of her bond, Funchess had a 10 p.m. curfew.

Funchess was released on bond by a judge at Clinton Municipal Court and was allowed to stay out on bond by Hinds County Senior Circuit Judge Tomie Green.

“We just want answers as to why it’s been handled this way,” said Cortez Singleton, Kiana’s cousin. “We feel someone needs to take responsibility for what’s happened.”

Surveillance video from the early morning hours of Jan. 24 shows a woman in a black Range Rover getting into an altercation with two other individuals at a parking lot at the M-Bar Sports Grill on Ridgewood Court Drive.

Video shows that as the first car left, the Range Rover followed and a passenger in the Range Rover opened fire after the vehicle left the parking lot.

Witnesses later identified the shooter as Funchess, who also admitted to police that she had fired shots, authorities told Jackson Municipal Court Judge Jeffrey Reynolds.

The driver of the Range Rover continued to follow the vehicle, additional shots were fired. Jackson Police later found Singleton dead in her vehicle on Wandering Way.

Funchess was arraigned in Jackson Municipal Court on Feb. 9.

Judge Jeffrey Reynolds gave her a $1 million bond on the murder charge and $250,000 on a related drive-by shooting charge.

Singleton doesn’t understand why Funchess was awarded bond at all.

“It makes no sense to us that a person who was out on a very small bond went out, committed a murder and the court thought it was the best decision to allow her to receive another bond,” he said.

“She apparently doesn’t follow any rules that the judicial system has set up for her.”

Funchess is being held at the Hinds County Detention Center in Raymond. Her case has yet to go to a grand jury.

According to court records, Funchess was indicted on a first-degree murder charge on June 1, 2019, in connection with a Jan. 23 shooting in Clinton.

The indictment in that case, handed down by a Hinds County grand jury shows that Funchess “did willfully, unlawfully and feloniously kill Kiona Morgan ... with a handgun.”

Funchess had been released on a $50,000 bond set by Clinton Municipal Judge Steven Boone. Green upheld that amount. Boone initially denied bond in the case.

Since her indictment, Funchess’ case has languished in circuit court. It was continued four times between Oct. 14, 2019 and Nov. 3, 2020, with each continuance order having to be signed off on by Green.

In the first continuance, the public defender said more time was needed to prepare a case, saying that the defendant’s actions were a “classic case of self-defense.”

In November 2019 order, attorneys said the case was still relatively new and that they needed more time to evaluate it. The same reason was given for the case to be continued in July 2020.

Finally, in November 2020, the case was continued to the next term because new defense counsel had been appointed. No trial date had been set, according to court filings.

Singleton questions whether his cousin would still be alive had that case been adjudicated.

“I’ve seen the family of the first victim talking about how long this case has gone on,” he said. “I don’t feel like a murder case should take that long to be brought to trial.”

A 3 On Your Side analysis shows that most individuals arrested for murder in the six months surrounding Funchess’ 2019 arrest have yet to go to trial.

Here is a listing of the murder arrests from the city of Jackson for that time period and how each has progressed through the court system:

  • Don Kenyatta Brown - arraigned in Jackson Municipal Court on Dec. 26, 2018; indicted on April 15, 2019; trial date set for May 17, 2021
  • Jakia Thomas - arraigned Jan. 11, 2019; indicted June 21, 2019; trial date set for July 6, 2021;
  • Brian Williams - arraigned Jan. 14, 2019; indicted July 26, 2019; still in discovery phases
  • Brandon Williams - arraigned Jan. 14, 2019; indicted July 26, 2019; trial date set for July 6, 2021; the date has been extended five times
  • Terry Haley Jr. - arraigned Jan. 14, 2019; indicted July 30, 2019; jury trial set for March 29, 2021
  • Elvin Horton - arraigned Feb. 5, 2019; indicted Oct. 25, 2019; trial set for March 8, 2021
  • Darren Clark - arraigned Feb. 8, 2019; indicted Oct. 25, 2019; trial set for March 2021
  • Markcus Aaron - arraigned Feb. 11, 2019; indicted Oct. 25, 2019; trial set for July 6, 2021
  • Marcell Martin - arraigned Feb. 19, 2019; indicted July 26, 2019; trial set for March 15, 2021
  • Cedric Taylor - arraigned March 6, 2019; indicted July 10, 2020; no trial set
  • Kendrick Palmer - arraigned March 22, 2019; indicted Jan. 17, 2020; trial set for July 6, 2021
  • Monya Davis - arraigned April 4, 2019; indicted Sept. 20, 2019; trial set for May 24, 2021;
  • Stacy Liddell - arraigned April 22, 2019; indicted July 26, 2019; trial set for March 22, 2021

All cases are slated to go before judges in circuit court.

Most of the indictments were handed down under former Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith.

Current District Attorney Jody Owens, who assumed the role in January 2020, was not immediately available for comment.

Green could not be reached for comment.

Singleton said he plans to reach out to both judges involved in Funches case. Even if he gets answers, it won’t bring Kiana back.

“She was a very fun-loving, cheerful, beautiful spirit that literally would brighten up any room she was in,” he said. “She was, and this is no secret, my favorite cousin. When I’m at a family event, I’m looking for her because she would make me laugh. She would bring joy to any type of situation.”

He talked about the fact that Kiana worked in the medical field and that even after COVID-19 broke out, she was more worried about not being able to see patients than about getting the virus.

The 25-year-old was employed at the Choices for Children and Families Healthcare Center in South Jackson. Family members, friends and co-workers held a candlelight vigil for the victim earlier this month.

“At this point, we can’t bring Kiana back,” Singleton said. “We want to make sure this doesn’t happen to any other family in Jackson.”

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