Anthony Antwan Millbrooks,
who pleaded guilty Aug. 12 to manslaughter in the shooting death of Roosevelt Willis, did not return to court Thursday morning for a sentencing hearing.
Judge L. T. Simes
had freed Millbrooks following his guilty plea and pronouncement of a 22-year sentence until a hearing this week.
Prosecuting Attorney Fletcher Long
had objected to the release of Millbrooks and Sheriff Bobby May
is quoted in the newspaper as calling the decision "idiotic."
“When we heard that Judge Simes had done this, we knew it was a mistake,” May said. “He had been in jail for two and a half years. Myself and every other deputy in this department knew he wasn’t going to return. It was an idiotic decision.”
“This man is a murderer, and now we have to go look for him,” May continued. “It is possibly a dangerous situation for our deputies or any other law enforcement agency in our country. He knows he’s facing prison time, and now that time will be longer. I’ve never heard of anything like this being allowed to happen.
“If something happens because of this, it’s on the judge’s shoulders,” added May.
A bench warrant has been issued for Millbrooks' arrest. Asked by the newspaper for comment, Simes said:
“There was a lot of conversation about it, and I decided to release him. I did not think it would be a problem. It was a judgement call that I made.”
The back story is that this comes amid intense feuding involving some of the same people and ongoing investigation of public corruption in the Delta. Simes has refused to accept a decision
by Long not to prosecute a murder case in Phillips County for lack of evidence. He took the extraordinary step of naming a special prosecutor, a power that many believe is outside the judge's power. (It's a simple separation of powers issue.) Simes has said he was motivated in part by the fact that an informant in the Delta Blues drug and corruption investigation had alleged that a deputy prosecutor in themurder case had been investigated for taking payoffs. Long later noted that Simes himself likely had been investigated, as had many others. The deputy prosecutor has not been charged or identified as a suspect.
Simes also has had multiple brushes with the state judicial ethics panel
, which has twice recommended his removal from the bench. The Supreme Court suspended him once, but declined to remove him.
Interesting case reported today in the Forrest City Times Herald