OUR VIEW: Justice delayed is not justice denied

Published 8:00 am Saturday, July 25, 2020

A year has passed since Oxford experienced one of its darkest summers to date with the brutal murders of Dominique Clayton and Ally Kostial.

This past week marked one year since the body of the Ole Miss student was found near Buford Ridge in the Harmontown area. Kostial had been shot multiple times and was discovered by Lafayette County Sheriff deputies who were on a routine patrol the morning of July 20, 2019.

Nearly two months prior to the day, Clayton’s body was found in her bedroom by one of her children after having been shot in the back of the head during the night.

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The two men who stand accused of committing those crimes are still awaiting the start of their capital murder trials. The families of both Kostial and Clayton are still awaiting for justice to be delivered.

The initial delay was due to the COVID-19 pandemic which caused a worldwide shutdown as people were forced to social distance and quarantine in their homes during the spring months.

Lafayette County was set to have its second Circuit Court trial session in April, where Brandon Theesfeld, who is charged with allegedly killing Kostial, and Matthew Kinne, who is charged with allegedly killing Clayton, were expected to receive trial dates. Both did get trial dates for the April session, but then courts were forced to close and the entire docket of April was a wash.

Families were forced to wait even longer due to something that was out of their control.

July’s trial session, the third of four sessions this year, came around but a docket call was not had. On June 30, two of the three judges who sit on Mississippi’s 3rd Circuit Court District, which includes Lafayette County, retired leaving only one judge in Kelly Luther.

With the retirements of Judge Andrew Howorth and John A. Gregory, a docket was not called and no trial dates for July were issued.

Justice was delayed yet again for the victims’ families, but has not been denied.

Two new judges have been appointed by Governor Tate Reeves this month, filling the ranks of the 3rd Circuit Court District once again. The possibility of getting trials for both Theesfeld and Kinne in the October session is high.

The families of Dominique Clayton and Ally Kostial have had to wait over a year to see justice served for the deaths of their loved ones. They must now wait a few months longer.

The outcome of the trials will not be known until a verdict is handed down, but Oxford might soon be able to see Clayton and Kostial’s deaths avenged. Bringing closure to the families and the dark summer of 2019.