The Scott Sisters: Double Life for $11

This brief article is your introduction to the story of Jamie and Gladys Scott, two sisters serving double life sentences for an alleged robbery netting $11.  I have been hearing about the Scott sisters for several months now, but the basic facts of the case remained fuzzy.  South Carolina legal analyst Nancy Lockhart has been assisting the Scott sisters on a pro bono basis and is fully acquainted with the story.  You can find more information on this case at The Black Commentator.

The State of Mississippi versus Jamie Scott and Gladys Scott

Nancy Lockhart, MJ

In 1994, the State of Mississippi sentenced two sisters, Jamie and Gladys Scott, to consecutive double life terms each for two counts of armed robbery they did not commit.  The Scott sisters did not have prior criminal records, and from the beginning, they have vigorously maintained their innocence.  Their convictions rest entirely on a combination of contradictory, coerced, and potentially perjured testimony by the victims and two other people charged with the crime who were offered lighter sentences for their cooperation.  

I have transcribed and attached below as Appendix 1 the most troubling evidence of coercion.  It is testimony from one of the other people charged with the crime, a 14-year-old boy who said that he signed a statement he neither wrote nor read that implicated the Scott sisters because the police told him if he did, he could go home the next morning, but if he did not, he would be sent to prison where he would be raped.

The Facts

The facts below were culled from the transcripts to The State of Mississippi vs. Jamie and Gladys Scott, which can be found online at http://www.scribd.com/doc/21748820/Scott-transcript.  The Scott sisters’ original indictment can also be found online at http://www.scribd.com/doc/21748521/Scott-Indictment.

(We have included parenthetical references to the trial transcripts after descriptions of key details.  To find the referenced passage from the trial, go to the top of the court document, and you will find an arrow key that will let you go to the page number you want.)

In the initial complaint filed shortly after the robbery, the victims never mentioned the Scott sisters’ involvement in the crime.  Almost one year later, the victims changed their account of the crime and stated that the Scott sisters participated in it.  (32-34; 60-63)

Three other people were convicted of the robbery, two of whom, cousins Howard Patrick (who was 14 years old) and Gregory Patrick (who was 18 years old), were given lighter sentences of eight years each for testifying about the Scott sisters’ involvement.   Howard Patrick testified that he spent 10 months in jail charged with the robbery before he signed a statement that implicated the Scott sisters.  On cross-examination, Howard admitted he didn’t know what he was signing.  He further said that he neither wrote, nor read the statement, but signed it because he was told by the police that if he did sign it, he would be released from jail the next morning, but if he did not, he would be sent to prison where he would be raped. (91-94—see Appendix 1 for an excerpt of Howard’s Patrick testimony where he describes the police threatening him with prison rape.) Howard Patrick also testified that this alleged robbery netted about ($9-$11) nine, ten or eleven dollars individually. (92) Similarly, Gregory Patrick testified that his statement that implicated the sisters included pages that were not written by him.  These pages included critical descriptions of the Scott sisters’ involvement. (113-115)

Using this dubious testimony, the prosecution constructed the following version of the crime.  On the night of the robbery, the prosecution argued that the Scott sisters persuaded Johnny Ray Hayes and Mitchell Duckworth to give them a ride home.  On the way to their home, the sisters convinced the victims to stop the car so they could use the restroom.  There, the prosecution argued that the Scott sisters met with Chris Patrick, Howard Patrick, and Gregory Patrick, devised, and then executed the following plan. 

The sisters got back into the victim’s car, and the Patrick’s followed behind them in another car.  After driving a few miles, one of the Scotts acted as if she was going to be sick, forcing the victims to pull the car over to the side of the rode.  The Scotts then got out of the car, whereupon their alleged partners pulled up next to them, got out of their car, and used a shotgun to rob Hayes and Duckworth of about $200.   

The group then drove off together, leaving the victims on the side of the road. Conflicting testimony states that $9-$11 dollars was netted.

The Scott’s trial lasted two days.  The jury deliberated a little over 30 minutes before delivering a unanimous guilty verdict of armed robbery that carried consecutive double life sentences for each sister. 

Post Conviction

After their conviction, the sisters appealed their verdict, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to convict them, and that the verdict was against the overwhelming weight of evidence.   The Mississippi Court of Appeals, however, affirmed the convictions.  Subsequent appeals have been filed with Mississippi’s Supreme Court including an Application for Leave TO File Post Conviction Motion as three affidavits in support of the sisters were not available during the trial but, all appeals have been denied.   

Why were the Scott Sisters charged with armed robbery?

It is difficult to reconcile the trial transcripts with the Scott sisters’ conviction without assuming that there is some kind of corruption behind this ordeal.   Through research and investigations I have heard the following account from several people involved with the case.  Scott County likely charged the Scott sisters with armed robbery because a family member turned state’s evidence against Sheriff Glenn Warren which resulted in his incarceration.  Scott County is a dry county, and allegedly this sheriff was running a bootlegging operation that also may have involved the judge who presided over the Scott’s trial.  Deputy sheriff Marvin Williams, who is also deceased, worked under Sheriff Glenn Warren and allegedly promised to pay their family back for the relative’s  testimony. 

The Scott County sheriff department also apparently tried to pin a restaurant robbery on the Scott sisters while they were awaiting trial, but the restaurant owners refused to cooperate. 

Jamie Scott’s Medical Condition

Both Jamie and Gladys Scott were healthy women when they entered the department of corrections prison system.  38 year old, Jamie Scott has kidney failure as a result of sub standard medical care within the department of corrections over the years.  E-mails, calls and letters from The Scott Sister’s supporters are the reason Jamie Scott has been taken to the hospital.  Jamie has had at least 5 infected catheters inserted in her neck causing her veins to collapse. Jamie’s doctors have stated that she was near death, infection had spread throughout her body and this was caused by cost cutting within Wexford Health Solutions, the prison medical contractor.

Sincerely,

Nancy Lockhart, M.J.

Appendix 1

Selections from Howard Patrick’s Testimony on signing a statement that implicated Jamie and Gladys Scott.

Q. Did you write this statement?

A. I didn’t write that.  I signed it.

Q. You didn’t write it out.  Someone else wrote it out for you?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Okay.  Did you read it?

A. No.

Q. You didn’t read it?

A. No

Q. So was the statement written out after you talked with Williams [Scotts County sheriff], or was it written out while you were talking with him?

A. It was written out before I talked to him. . . .

Q. Okay; and, then you signed it without reading it?

A. That’s right.   They told me they was going to let me go next morning. [Howard Patrick had been in jail for the previous 10 months charged with the robbery in question]

Q. Beg, your pardon?

A. They told me they was going to let me go the next morning.

Q. And, that’s why you signed the statement?

A. Yes, sir . . . .

Q. Let me just make sure I’m clear.  You signed this statement without reading it, because you wanted to get out of jail?

A. Yes, I wanted to get out of jail.

Q. And, you had been promised that if you signed the statement, you could get out of jail the next morning?

A. That, and they said if I didn’t participate with them, they would send me to Parchman [prison] and make me out a female.

Q. I’m sorry?

A. That they would let me out of jail the next morning, and that if I didn’t participate with them, that they would send me to Parchman and make me out a female.

Q. In other words, they would send you to Parchman, and you would get raped; right? 

A. Yes, sir. . .

Q. So, you decided it was better to sign the statement, even without reading it?

A. I didn’t know what it was.

16 thoughts on “The Scott Sisters: Double Life for $11

  1. I am sure the goal of the robbery wasnt to net $11 dollars. Dont stick up joints and you wont go to jail. fnnnn bleeding hearts.

  2. Semper:
    If you read the story, you would know the Scott sisters didn’t hold up anybody. Their ties to the boys who did the shake down are very dubious. But do you really think that double life sentences are appropriate in this case? Should every petty thief be incarcerated for life? If you were pulled over for drunk driving, would you think it was okay if they threw you away for life? What if you got into a physical altercation and ended up breaking somebody’s nose? Would that justify a life sentence?

    Alan Bean

  3. Pingback: Mississippi parole board takes up the Scott Sisters case « Friends of Justice

  4. Wow, no matter what they did two lifes for and $11.00 crime, thats just unthinkable. but once more why should we be surprise. I only hope people step up and let their voices be heard for justice to free these sisters before somthing happens to one of them. Love you all the Mellow on J.L.

  5. i agree the sentence was overkill and obviously racially baised…..but none the less….i dont think the whole truth is being told about their involvement! …..i use this as an example to my children……even when u arent necessarily the commiter of the crime…..association can carry grave consequences!!! jus my 1 1/2 cents

  6. And they say Texas justice is tough, but I’m not surprise that Mississippi is sentencing african americans to extreme prison time, I’m just surprise in this day and time.
    Also that jurors are falling for the harsh sentencing, I’m a paralegal student and this is very confusing, why the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing this type of judgement in such a minor legal matter.

  7. these girls should not have been given that much time in the first place this is very unjustice and instead of thanking the govener for their release they need to pay the scotts sister for all the time they have lost. and all thanks go to god, if the lord have not allow this girl to get sick they will still be in that place he did not do them any justice all he was doing was making sure she didnot use up the money so give thanks to all mighty god not man.

  8. JENA SIX, OH YEAH, YOU MEAN THE SIX BLACK KIDS THAT JUMPED AND STOMPED ON THE HEAD OF THE ONE WHITE KID AND FRACTURED HIS SKULL. THAT JENA SIX. YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN MARCHING FOR THE VICTIM. THAT WOULD BE THE SINGLE KID WITH THE CRACKED HEAD YOU RACIST.

  9. JSD: You seem to know more about the incident at Jena High School than anyone who was at the scene. I have read and re-read all the eye-witness statements, but never came across your description of the incident. The state never asserted that the victim’s skull was fractured. I am well-informed about the assault at Jena High, but have no clear idea what happened. Justin Barker was knocked cold by a single punch to the side of the head. That much is reasonably certain. He fell, unconscious, to the concrete floor and this impact likely added to the physical damage. There are some reports that he was kicked while unconscious, but there is little credible evidence linking any of the defendants to specific acts and I suspect at least two of them were not involved in any way. The Jena 6 were at risk because people like you, working on the basis of ignorance and crude racial stereotypes, immediately assumed the guilt of each defendant. The Scott Sisters were implicated and convicted in precisely the same fashion.

  10. I hope that the hate this story will touch the lifes of all and let this case in reference to the scott sister’s be over turn and this family can pick up there lifes and move on.

  11. Hi ALL

    I am an Australian and I signed petitions for the pardon of the Scott sisters,
    via the NAACP Mississippi State Conference.
    I am now very pleased of the result and for them and their family.
    I brought this story to attention of my daughter who has just graduated as a
    lawyer in Australia and she commented that America has a legal system and that we (in Australia) have a Justice system.
    A.L, 64

  12. and you poor people live in the Land of the Free.

    According to the 2009 Pew report, 1 in 31 adults in the US are in the prison system. i.e. in prison or on parole and probabation. In some states such as Georgia it’s as high as I in 18 adults. Worse, 1 in 11 black adults is under correctional supervision versus only 1 in 45 white adults.

    Given the large amount of work undertaken in prisons by inmates (for virtually no pay in real terms) one has to ask if slavery has really been eradicated in the USA.

    Throw in a barbaric death penalty still prevalent in too many states and three strikes and you’re out and you have a legal system that is not fit for purpose in a modern democracy. What a shame.

  13. No i think that was just a real big set up but if I were those young ladys i would sue them

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