Prosecutors reveal timeline of what they believe led to the death of Jimmie ‘Jay’ Lee

Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 4:10 PM CDT
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OXFORD, Miss. (WLBT) - Bond has been denied for the 22-year-old accused of killing one of his college classmates.

In court on Tuesday, Lafayette County Circuit Court Judge Gray Tollison denied bond for Sheldon Timothy Herrington Jr., who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jimmie “Jay” Lee, who was a member of the LGBTQ community.

Herrington sat in his chair motionless after the judge denied his bond.

Prosecutors pushed for no bond because they believe Herrington is a danger to the community and a flight risk.

“It’s a good feeling because a murderer is not on the streets and is not going to be on the streets, so everybody feels protected, because that’s all we want,” said Tayla Carey, Lee’s sister. “We want everyone to be protected and safe. The fact that he didn’t even make a bond is truly an honor. It’s a great feeling because justice still has not been served. It is still going to get served, this is just the beginning.”

Here are vivid details of what happened in court on Tuesday.

Lee’s mom, Stephanie, was the first witness to take the stand. She became emotional in the courtroom recounting the day her son went missing, which was her birthday - July 8.

Although his body has yet to be found, Stephanie said she believes her son is dead.

Stephanie said Lee texted her around 2 a.m. that morning. She responded later on in the day when she woke up, only to never hear from Lee again.

In court, Ryan Baker, a detective with the Oxford Police Department, testified that he believes Herrington is the last person to see Lee alive on July 8.

In fact, he read to the court the last conversation between the two on Snapchat when they talked about “hooking up.” Messaging on Snapchat is how Lee and Herrington communicated.

Baker stated that Lee and Herrington previously got into an argument, causing Lee to block Herrington from the social media site. The detective says Herrington then created another account and proceeded to message Lee.

At 6:03 the morning of July 8, Baker said Lee sent Herrington a message saying “open,” letting Herrington know he was outside his apartment, formerly known as Lafayette Place, now called DLP Oxford Apartments.

In possibly the biggest revelation of Tuesday’s hearing, while on the witness stand, Baker announced that they were able to get a hold of some of the Google searches from Herrington’s MacBook.

Baker said at 5:56 a.m., minutes before Lee arrived at the apartment, Herrington Googled, “How long does it take to strangle someone gabby petito”.

According to Baker, Herrington then tried to stage the murder by driving Lee’s car from his apartment complex to another one, Molly Barr Trails, in an effort to make it seem like that was the last place Lee visited.

Prosecutors showed videos from 7:25 a.m. that morning.

Baker said the video shows Herrington driving Lee’s car into Molly Barr Trails, which is one way in and one way out. Not long after, a man in a gray hoodie is seen jogging, leaving out of the complex.

Baker said the jogger was Herrington, arguing that you never see him enter the apartment complex.

Surveillance footage then shows Herrington flagging someone down for a ride at a nearby gas station, according to Baker. He said that person was someone who recognized Herrington and offered to give him a ride home.

Another photo shown during the hearing shows who Assistant District Attorney Tiffany Kilpatrick said is Herrington. Herrington owns a moving company.

Kilpatrick said the photo shows the murder suspect in his moving truck with what she said were gardening tools, shovels, and a wheelbarrow. The assistant district attorney said the picture was taken from a surveillance camera that same day in Grenada County, which is where Herrington is ordinal from.

She believes he went to dispose of the body afterward.

During the more than five hours-long hearing, Baker stated cadaver dogs hit on a dead body scent inside Herrington’s apartment, as well as inside his SUV and work truck.

Investigators said they found strands of blonde hair inside Herrington’s SUV. Baker told the court that Lee had blonde in her hair.

Investigators say they have more evidence connecting Herrington to the crime and are waiting for it to return from a crime lab.

In an interview with the Oxford Police Department, Herrington admitted to investigators that he and Lee had a sexual relationship. The District Attorney’s Office believes Herrington feared being outed.

“I do believe that this was a hate crime,” said Lee Holmes, who was protesting outside the courthouse in honor of Lee. “If there was any sort of inappropriate relationship between the suspect or Jay Lee, if there was anything like that, there should have been a more civil solution instead of just going out and killing somebody.”

“We know the truth now,” said Carey. “It’s kind of like a weight lifted off of our shoulders, so we know that we finally have closure.”

However, defense attorneys refute those claims and said there’s no physical evidence connecting Herrington to the crime - even reiterating the fact that no body has been found.

Kevin Horan, who is also the District 34 state representative, said he had no comment following the judge’s decision on Tuesday.

Herrington’s mom, Tina Herrington, was one of four witnesses the defense called to the stand. She told the judge her son was a “dependable and trustworthy man.”

She asked Judge Tollison to keep her son’s character in mind, stating that she believed Herrington deserved to be given a bond. When all was said and done, Herrington’s bond was denied.

This case has now been bound over to a grand jury. No word yet on when the case will be heard.

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