Meridian Star

May 21, 2013

Defendant absent as murder trial opens


Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. —

A 41-year-old man accused in a high-profile murder case elected not to attend the first day of his trial.

The Clarion-Ledger reports James Cobb Hutto is on trial in the 2010 death of 81-year-old Ethel Winstead Simpson, and could face the death penalty, but he was not present Monday in Hinds County Circuit Court.

Daryl Smith, a Hinds County assistant district attorney, said Hutto can choose on a daily basis if he will attend. Officials say the trial could last a week or more.

Authorities say Simpson's body was found Sept. 17, 2010, near Edwards, Miss. She died of blunt force trauma.

Investigators believe Hutto befriended Simpson on the walking track at the Baptist Healthplex in Clinton.