Oxford police presented little on-the-record evidence other than the word of a detective to obtain a warrant to arrest Sheldon Timothy Herrington Jr., a recent Ole Miss graduate, for the first-degree murder of Jimmie “Jay” Lee, according to an affidavit obtained by Mississippi Today.
The sparse evidence in the affidavit – one of the few documents publicly available at this stage of the case – is not unusual in Mississippi, legal experts and defense attorneys say.
Since Herrington’s arrest Friday, the Oxford Police Department has not released any new details regarding probable cause or a potential motive in the case, leaving members of the public to search for answers. Police have stated in press releases that they believe Lee, a Black student who was well-known in Oxford’s LGBTQ community, was visiting someone at Molly Barr Trails, a student housing complex, on the day he was killed.
It’s unclear who Lee was visiting, and police have yet to find his body.
The Lafayette County District Attorney’s Office did not return calls on Tuesday. Kevin Horan, Herrington’s attorney and a state representative, was not available for comment. Carlos Moore, Herrington’s uncle by marriage who is also retained in the case, told WREG Herrington is innocent.
The affidavit, obtained by Mississippi Today, shows OPD detective Ryan Baker swore an oath in Lafayette County Justice Court that Herrington “did feloniously, willfully and unlawfully with deliberate design to effect the death of Jimmie Dale Lee III” on July 8. The affidavit does not describe the evidence that led Baker to this conclusion.
Baker took that oath on Friday, July 22, and Judge Mickey Avent issued the warrant that led to Herrington’s arrest that day.