• 68°

Murder trial date set

After more than two years, a trial has been set for one of the three men charged with shooting and killing a University of Mississippi student.

The trial for Derrick Boone, 25, is set to begin with jury selection starting April 4 at the Lafayette County Courthouse.

Boone, of Laurel, was arrested in 2013 along with Steven Wilbanks, 24, of North Carolina, and Joseph Lyons, 22, of Houston, Texas, for the alleged murder of Zacharias Hercules McClendon.

According to court documents, the three defendants lived next door to McClendon, who was shot and killed with a 16-guage shotgun. The state claims after the killing the three men then took McClendon’s 2004 Nissan and three college textbooks worth about $500. They then reportedly parked the car at the Chevron gas station on Highway 6 near Thacker Heights Drive.

McClendon’s body was found in his apartment at 20B County Road 140 on Dec. 18, 2013, and the three men were arrested a few days later.

The three men are charged with capital murder since the homicide allegedly was committed during another felony — in this case, the theft of the vehicle and books.

In February, Boone’s attorneys, Tom Levidiotis and LeRoy Percy, filed several motions including a motion to dismiss the case, claiming their client was denied a speedy trial. Judge John Kelly Luther denied the motions. However, in the motion, Boone’s attorneys claim Boone was not the shooter and should not be charged with capital murder, which could carry the death penalty. According to court documents, Wilbanks confessed he shot McClendon once in the nape of the neck with a shotgun he owned for sever- al years. The motion claims

McClendon Wilbanks and Lyons both stated that Boone was “not even in the same room or watching” when

McClendon was shot. A motion to bar the state from seeking the death penalty against Boone was also denied, stating it would be up to the jury as to the sentence if he were found guilty of capital murder.

District Attorney Ben Creekmore said two years preparing a capital murder trial is “fairly standard across the state.”

“You’re dealing with the ultimate penalty involving three defendants,” he said. “The process in these types of cases takes some time.”

There have been no new motions filed by Wilbanks or Lyons’ attorney. Creekmore didn’t comment as to when those cases are expected to be disposed, whether by trial or plea agreement.

McClendon, a first-year graduate student, was pursuing a Masters of Business Administration at Ole Miss. Prior to attending Ole Miss, McClendon graduated from Williams College in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. McClendon also received two degrees from Mississippi College in a related field and was an apprentice for an orthopedics surgeon at Tulane University while in college.