Bond set, posted for man accused of killing former state lawmaker Ashley Henley

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 10:32 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Yalobusha County Circuit Court set a $250,000 bond for the man accused of killing former DeSoto County Representative Ashley Henley who was gunned down over a year ago.

Billy Brooks was arrested by Calhoun County Sheriff’s deputies and booked in the Yalobusha County Detention Center Tuesday, which is less than two weeks after a 3 On Your Side investigation into the case.

Brooks’ bond hearing took place Thursday, and his wife tells WLBT that he posted bond that same day.

A grand jury indicted Brooks on June 30th, exactly one week after we told you no progress had been reported in the former lawmaker’s death investigation.

Ashley’s husband, Brandon, and best friend, Melissa Smith, feel the timing of it all is suspicious.

“What did you come up with between the time of the story to now? What popped up that you can say, ‘Yeah, he did it. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, this man is guilty,’” Brandon Henley said.

Brooks was out on bond for arson in a case involving Ashley’s sister-in-law, Kristina Michelle Jones, whose death has yet to be ruled a homicide even though her toxicology report indicates she was dead before the fire.

Authorities then arrested Brooks for Ashley’s murder on Tuesday, which happened to be Jones’ birthday.

“I don’t think anything Yalobusha County is doing is coincidental at all,” Brandon said. “I don’t think the fact that I had to find out what happened through a third party is coincidental as far as the arrest yesterday.”

While he’s happy to see movement in the investigation, Brandon said he’s surprised to hear the murder charges were in connection to his wife’s death instead of his sister’s.

Smith said the same.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions. We still do not know what happened to Michelle, and honestly, it feels like they’re not really trying to find out what happened to Michelle,” Smith said. “This is still not going to go away until we know what happened all the way around.”

Brandon said he only had a handful of conversations with Brooks prior to his initial indictment but that he’d be surprised if Brooks is connected to both cases.

However, Brandon and Smith both say the lack of communication from the Yalobusha County Sheriff’s Department makes it hard to say for sure.

“You know how when you meet someone, you get a vibe? You’re like, ‘This person is a very bad person, this person is an evil person, or this person could do something to somebody.’ You get a vibe. There’s an energy there, and I never got that from Billy. I never got that he could be a cold-blooded killer,” Brandon said.

“I don’t have a reason to believe that they have the wrong guy or the right guy. There’s not enough information. You can’t put that label on somebody if you don’t know for certain. You have to know the facts,” Smith said.

As much as he wants closure, Brandon said he also wants the same thing Brooks wants – proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

“This is not just something that happened. This is a major, traumatic event for my family and others,” he said. “If it is true that Billy had nothing to do with it, it would also be very traumatic for him and his family.”

Brandon said he still hasn’t gotten all of Ashley’s things back, including her handgun, which was taken to the state crime lab for testing over a year ago.

As it relates to Brooks, his wife, Melissa Stewart-Brooks, released the following statement to WLBT Thursday.

“I do feel he’s innocent. I’ve been with him for 16 years. He isn’t violent. I think he’s being blamed to cover up something bigger. I’m hoping we will get a bond issued that we can afford.”

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