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Grand jury likely to decide whether charges are warranted
By RUSSELL TURNER
A Greene County Grand Jury will likely be asked to decide whether charges will be filed in the shocking death of a Leakesville woman last week.
Officers from the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s office and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations are continuing their investigation into the death of 34-year-old Ashley Herndon, who died last Thursday, Nov. 7, from a stab wound to her leg. A preliminary autopsy was unable to pinpoint the manner of Herndon’s death, but Greene County Coroner Ladd Pulliam said the cause of death was hemorrhagic shock due to blood loss suffered in the incident.
According to police reports, authorities received a 911 call from a residence at 1665 Steer Hollow Road at 1:34 p.m. Thursday. The caller, Rocky Edward Lee, 35, of Smith Huff Road, Lucedale, told dispatchers he needed an ambulance for Herndon who had a serious cut on her leg. Two Greene County deputies arrived on the scene separately 12 minutes later and found Herndon unresponsive on a couch inside the residence. She was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Officers reported that Lee had attempted to stop the bleeding by making a tournquet with a belt and was sitting next to Herndon pleading for help when they arrived. He later reportedly told officers that Herndon was sitting in his lap when she was accidently cut by a knife that was open in his pants pocket.
Herndon reportedly had a laceration on the inside of her left leg just above the knee. It is believed the knife cut a main artery in her leg.
Officers took Lee into custody for questioning and later got a warrant to conduct a search of the premises. Officials said the search did not turn up any evidence to contradict Lee’s story. However, Sheriff Stanley McLeod says the investigation will continue as police await the results of the completed autopsy. Due to the unusual circumstances surrounding Herndon’s death, McLeod said he anticipates turning over all evidence from the investigation for consideration by a grand jury.
While Lee has not been charged in connection to the incident, he is facing charges stemming from parole violations. According to reports, a drug test performed after Herndon’s death came back positive for methamphetamine, which is a violation of parole. He will also have to answer to the parole board for missing a required meeting with his parole officer.
He was transported to the George County Regional Jail, where he remained at press time Tuesday.
Lee has been incarcerated with the Mississippi Department of Corrections on multiple occasions and was most recently released from South Mississippi Correctional Institution in September of this year.
Herndon’s death shocked the community and left friends and family in mourning and struggling to make sense of the tragedy. She was buried Tuesday, leaving behind five children, her parents and a large extended family. Her full obituary can be found elsewhere in this edition.