Deputies Indicted In Lee County Sheriff's Case

Two Lee County Sheriff's deputies were indicted by a federal grand jury for their role in the death of Billy Ray Stone, who was killed after shooting Sheriff Harold Ray Presley to death last July.

Deputies Jason Stanford and Danny Dillard were indicted Wednesday morning on two charges of violating the civil rights of Stone.

Dillard and Stanford were on the scene when Presley, 52, and suspected kidnapper Stone, 53, of Baldwyn, died following a shootout July 6 near Saltillo.

Stone died soon after fatally wounding Presley. An autopsy showed Stone suffered head injuries and two gunshot wounds, including one from close range.

Following the autopsy report, all five deputies present at the scene _ Stanford, Dillard, Johnny Lee, Jack Tate, and Gary Dodds _ were placed on administrative leave.

The grand jury did not return any indictments against the other three deputies.

On July 5, deputies stopped Stone's truck at a roadblock, but Stone sped away with Charlene Wright of Tupelo in the vehicle. Authorities said Wright was kidnapped by Stone, prompting deputies to give chase. Wright was thrown from Stone's truck during the chase.

A transcript shows Presley said his patrol car ran over her. She died a day later.

Stone wrecked his truck and authorities managed to corner him in a tool shed near Saltillo. Presley, who earlier had taken off his bullet-resistant vest, was shot six times in a shootout with Stone. Stone was then killed.

Dr. Steven Hayne, who conducted an autopsy on Stone, said the man suffered fractures to his skull as well as cuts and bruises. Stone had two black eyes and three lacerations on the back of his head, the medical report showed. Stone was shot twice, once by a distant shotgun blast and another time by a near-contact gunshot wound to the chest, which went through his right lung but hit no other vital organs, Hayne said.

In an earlier interview with The Clarion-Ledger newspaper, Hayne said Stone might have survived with prompt medical attention.

"If you are asking if Stone could have survived one of the causes (of death) if medical intervention had been available, there is a possibility,'' he said.

The Stone family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in the case last July, saying deputies beat Stone to death. The sheriff's family responded with their own $112 million wrongful-death countersuit.