HOUSTON – Justice Court Judge Earnest Cunningham found Okolona Assistant Police Chief Romona Robertson guilty of three of four misdemeanor charges in an eight hour trial Monday.
Robertson was found guilty of driving under the influence, speeding and disorderly conduct and will pay a fine of $600 plus court cost. Robertson was found not guilty of possession of a controlled substance. The judge did not impose jail time on any of the misdemeanor charges.
Okolona Police Chief Tommie Ivy said he did not know if Robertson would keep her job as the department’s No. 2 officer. Ivy, who recently lost the election to be Okolona’s next city marshal, did say Robertson was a good officer and he was glad the trial was over.
The charges were filed in District 1 Justice Court on Feb. 5, by Mississippi Highway Patrolman James Burrow. Burrow and Trooper Cindy Searcy stopped Robertson on Dec. 7, on Highway 32 just east of its intersection with Highway 15, prompting the case to be heard in the Houston Justice Court.
Chickasaw County Justice Court Judges, citing the political nature of the case, recused themselves, prompting Cunningham to be brought in from Marshall County to render a verdict.
Chickasaw County Prosecuting Attorney Elizabeth Fox Ausbern and Chickasaw County District Attorney Ben Creekmore prosecuted the case.
“I hope the roads of Chickasaw County will be safer because of this verdict,” said Ausbern.
Creekmore said he would not speculate on why Robertson was not convicted on the possession charge.
Defense attorney Eddie Lancaster felt the judge believed the testimony of Robertson and others over the dash-board video taken of the traffic stop.
A videos shot from Burrow’s dashboard camera of the traffic stop were shown at Monday’s trial. Video shot by Trooper Searcy at Trace Regional Hospital and a third video showing Robertson’s action and demeanor as she was being transported to the hospital by Searcy were also shown.
Burrow and Searcy said Robertson initially asked to take a blood test to prove she was not under the influence. Both officers said Robertson refused the test when they took her to the hospital.
Burrow said he clocked Robertson driving a white Okolona Police Department Challenger at 77 miles-an-hour in a 55 zone and watched her cross the centerline several times. Searcy said she found 18 pills, later determined to be hydrocodone in a blue unmarked bottle in the driver’s door pocket of the patrol car.
Both Searcy and Burrow said they knew Robertson, she appeared to be under the influence and failed to follow their commands and directions during the traffic stop.
Robertson took the stand in her defense and said she had prescriptions for 120 tablets of hydrocodone issued by Okolona doctors in August, September, October and November.
Robertson said the stop was part of a conspiracy and repeatedly said she was not speeding, had back problems that prompted her unsteady walk, dental surgery that prompted her slurred speech and complied with all reasonable requests of both officers.
Robertson appeared at Monday’s trial in uniform, but told the court she had been taken off duty until the trial was over. It is not known if Robertson will keep her driver’s license due to the DUI conviction.