A man accused of murder is back behind bars after he was mistakenly paroled by the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Michael Ross, 21, was serving time in the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County for a cocaine charge when he was paroled on Wednesday, May 2. In addition to the drug charge, Ross also had a warrant out for his arrest in Lowndes County for capital murder.
Typically, if an inmate is serving jail time in one county and has a warrant out for his arrest in another county, a “hold” is placed on him or her. If that inmate is paroled from the first county, they are then released into the custody of the second county to face sentencing on the remaining charges.
However, due in part to a paperwork error, Ross did not have a “hold” on his record for the murder charge and Lowndes County was not immediately notified when he was paroled.
MDOC Parole Chairman Malcolm McMillin said that the parole board was aware of the murder charge but they believed it had been “no billed” by the grand jury. Ross’ murder charge has gone before the grand jury two times. It was allegedly no billed the first time because the investigator was not ready to present the case. The second time it was presented to the grand jury, Ross was indicted and a court date was set. However, McMillin claims the parole board was not aware of the second presentation to the grand jury. When asked why he did not contact Lowndes County to verify if Ross’ status, he replied, “I can’t tell you that.”
In addition to the capital murder charge, Ross also allegedly violated probation a reported four times while at a state facility for drug rehabilitation. As a condition of the program, inmates are often subjected to random drug testing during and after their time at the facility. Ross allegedly failed four different drug tests, violating the conditions of his parole four times. While McMillin could not comment on the specifics of Ross’ parole, he did confirm that Ross had “technical violations.”
“It was the board’s decision that the technical violations didn’t warrant bringing him back off parole,” he said.
Ross was released from MDOC custody on Wednesday and, once the error was noticed, the US Marshals quickly formed a task force with the Columbus-Lowndes Metro Narcotics, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, and the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department to locate the accused murderer. After a weeklong manhunt, the law enforcement officials discovered Ross hiding out at an apartment at Greentree Apartments on Lehmberg Rd. in East Columbus.
Ross is one of three men accused in the murder of Eddie Terrell “Meg” Bankhead. Bankhead was gunned down in the doorway of his home last June, and Ross is believed to be the driver of the getaway vehicle. Ross and the three other men accused of the crime are set to go to trial this week.0