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Attorney for Rankin County teen murder suspect asks court to bar media from trial

Carly Madison Gregg
Carly Madison Gregg is accused of killing her mother and trying to kill her stepfather (Photo courtesy of the Rankin County Sheriff's Office)

The attorney representing a Rankin County teenager accused of killing her mother and attempting to kill her stepfather is trying to oust the media from the courtroom.

Caleb Coleman, who has been representing 14-year-old Carly Madison Gregg since the deadly incident took place in Brandon earlier this year, pleaded with a judge on Tuesday to prohibit camera usage when his client goes to trial. Coleman argued that Gregg will never get a fair shot if the local media isn’t barred.

“Your honor, we believe that the media should be excluded. We believe that Carly is being prejudiced by the media,” Coleman said, also asking the judge to reduce Gregg’s bond from the initial $1 million.

Circuit Judge David Morrow informed Coleman that he could not rule on the motions immediately as they were not filed by the deadline set going into Tuesday’s hearing. However, Morrow did point out that freedom of the press is generally protected under U.S. law.

“I’ve not had any objections or any complaints regarding the media who has been willing to or wants to be here. They do provide their notice as required. I honestly believe that the public has a right to know since this is a public forum,” Morrow said, adding that he would make a ruling on the motion to reduce Gregg’s bond on May 21 with his ruling on the motion to bar the media coming on May 28.

On March 19, police responded to reports of shots fired inside a home on Ashton Way in the Farmington Station subdivision. Upon arriving, they found Gregg’s stepfather, Heath Smylie, suffering from a gunshot wound to the shoulder. He quickly pointed deputies to the body of his wife and Gregg’s mother, Ashley Smylie. Ashley, a teacher at Northwest Rankin Middle School, was pronounced dead on the scene.

Ashley Smylie was a teacher at Northwest Rankin Middle School before she was shot and killed on Tuesday. Officers believe it was her daughter who pulled the trigger. (Photo from the Rankin County School District)

Heath recounted to police that he had come home to find his wife dead. He said he was then approached by an armed Gregg who shot him before he fought her off and took the weapon. Gregg fled the scene and was captured by officers through a multi-agency search in a field near the family’s home.

Throughout initial hearings, investigators have provided information they believe shows Gregg premeditated the murder of her mother. Gregg is said to have invited a friend over after she shot her mother. Once the friend arrived, Gregg showed her the body and murder weapon before the friend quickly called for her father to come and get her. Once she was arrested, a jail employee provided bond paperwork and the teen allegedly asked, “Oh, you can kill someone, pay a lot of money, and get out of jail?”

Coleman has so far argued that Gregg suffers from a mental disorder and that she had a change in medication a week before the murder took place. He contends that she has been hearing voices while imprisoned, which has resulted in her needing her medication swapped on multiple occasions. Prosecution, on the other hand, does not believe a mental illness entitles someone to take another’s life. Gregg’s defense has yet to set up an outside mental evaluation even though it was supposed to be completed within 10 business days of April 18. Morrow informed Coleman on Tuesday that his “patience is going to be a little thin” if an evaluation is not completed pronto.

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