Earnest Lee Hargon, a one-time cattle truck driver accused of killing a Yazoo County couple and their child, on Monday waived his right to a preliminary hearing on multiple capital murder charges.
Hargon, wearing an orange-and-white jumpsuit from the Rankin County Jail, appeared to blink each time a charge was read during the hearing that lasted only minutes.
He answered "yes sir'' when asked if he understood the action being taken by his court-appointed attorney. The case would now go to a grand jury.
Hargon, 43, is accused of shooting to death his cousin, Michael Hargon, and strangling Michael Hargon's wife, Rebecca, and 4-year-old son, James Patrick.
The Vaughan community family disappeared on Valentine's Day and were missing for two weeks before their bodies were recovered nearly 100 miles from their Yazoo County home and only a few miles from Earnest Lee Hargon's home in Smith County.
District Attorney James Powell said he only learned of Hargon's decision shortly before the hearing.
"I guess he didn't want to go through the process. This is pretty rare,'' said Powell, who has pledged to seek the death penalty.
Diane Hargon, mother of Michael Hargon, said family members who had attended the hearing were shocked at the development. She said Earnest Lee Hargon could have acted "before we came all the way down here.''
Diane Hargon, wearing a pin with the pictures of her slain family members, said she believed Hargon had taken the step in hopes his case will moved out of Yazoo County.
Pointing to the picture of her grandson, she said, "Where this one is involved, it won't matter where they take him.''
Hargon's court-appointed attorney, public defender Wesley Evans of Canton, said he had been prepared to go forward with the hearing. He said it was Hargon's decision to waive his rights.
Evans said that while he understood how the Hargon family felt, "we have to defend Mr. Hargon the best we can.''