Death row inmates mother dies in house fire

The mother of a death row inmate died in a house fire Saturday night, a fire official said.

Ruth Ann Bishop, 58, is the mother of Willie Jerome “Fly” Manning, said Oktibbeha County Fire Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan.

The residence at 2331 Williams Road “was fully involved in flame and even though a rescue attempt was started, it was obviously too late to make entry into the house,” Rosenhan said.

No foul play is expected at this time, said Oktibbeha County Coroner Michael Hunt, who added Bishop’s body was sent to Jackson for an autopsy. She was found close to the home’s back exit door once the fire was extinguished, he said.

The fire was reported at 7:13 p.m. Saturday, Hunt said.

Firefighters from across Oktibbeha County arrived to help District 5/Oktoc fight the blaze, Rosenhan said.

Fire officials initiated an aggressive attack and brought the blaze under control “shortly thereafter,” he said.

Those working to battle the fire used a water shuttle operation to maintain water supply and “the pumpers never ran out of water. The personnel did a very good job of controlling this fire, and even though it was a tragic incident, I was pleased with the response and actions of the responding firefighters,” Rosenhan said.

Some of the structure remained intact, though the house would be considered a total loss, he said.

Two deputy state fire marshals responded Sunday morning to investigate the fire, which is customary in a fatality, the fire coordinator said.

OCH Regional Medical Center personnel arrived with an ambulance for standby purposes as did Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department to help with traffic and onlookers.

Oktibbeha-Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services representatives got the victim’s son, Deon Manning, a motel room, Rosenhan said.

In late January, Circuit Judge Lee Howard had yet to rule on a post-conviction hearing for Manning to determine whether prosecutors in his 1996 capital murder trial may have withheld evidence and presented false evidence and whether he was denied effective defense counsel.

Hearings which took place last month were the result of a 2004 Mississippi Supreme Court ruling upholding Manning’s conviction in the Jan. 18, 1993 slayings of Emmoline Jimmerson and Alberta Jordan in the apartment the two elderly women shared at the Brookville Gardens complex.

Manning, who was also convicted in 1994 and given the death penalty for the December 1992 capital murders of Mississippi State students Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller, was sentenced to death in the deaths of Jimmerson and Jordan, who were found beaten and with their throats slashed.

Despite upholding Manning’s 1996 conviction, Supreme Court justices ordered a post-conviction relief hearing on the evidentiary matters primarily based on claims by Manning and his attorneys that testimony by Kevin Lucious, a principal prosecution witness authorities said overheard Manning discussing the women’s murders and who saw him enter their apartment the day.

In the hearings last month, Lucious, who has been in prison in St. Louis, Mo., for murder convictions there since the mid-1990s, formally recanted his testimony after earlier filing affidavits in which he said his statements given to authorities and his testimony at Manning’s 1996 trial was false and coerced by authorities amid fears he would be charged with the murders.

Lucious was initially interviewed by current Starkville Police Chief (then-Captain) David Lindley and Oktibbeha County Sheriff Dolph Bryan, on March 8, 1994, while incarcerated in the St. Louis prison.

During testimony in last month’s hearings, both Lindley and Bryan said they did not coerce any statements from Lucious.

Paul Sims


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