Jan 19 2007
Bobby Joe Fabian helped solve Sherry murder case
ANGOLA, LA. — Testimony that solved one of Mississippi’s most difficult murder cases didn’t win a reduced sentence for a 62-year-old inmate, one of the few surviving members of the “Dixie Mafia.”
Former federal prosecutor George Phillips, now head of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, was among officials asking the Louisiana Pardon Board to cut Bobby Joe Fabian’s life sentence to the 36 years he has served for kidnapping and shooting two Louisiana police officers.
Fabian’s testimony connected lucrative telephone scams run by Angola prison inmates to the September 1987 slayings of Biloxi Circuit Court Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife, Margaret, a former Biloxi City Council member.
“Mr. Bobby Joe Fabian literally handed us the Sherry murder case on a silver platter. The state and locals had been working on this case for over two years and didn’t even have a suspect, didn’t have a lead,” Phillips said.
The Sherrys’ daughters, Lynne Sposito of Raleigh, N.C., and Leslie Miller of Lafayette, joined Phillips, retired FBI agent Keith Bell and Fabian’s attorney, Cynthia Speetjens, in supporting Fabian.
The five-member board’s “no” was unanimous.
Phillips said Fabian’s cooperation helped federal authorities convict seven people, including former Angola inmate Kirksey McCord Nix Jr., former Biloxi Mayor Pete Halat and the hired killer, Thomas Leslie Holcomb.
Nix, a convicted murderer, ordered the killings from Angola after Halat, his attorney, told him the judge had stolen thousands of dollars Nix had accumulated in the 1980s by bilking homosexual men who thought they were helping young men who had minor brushes with the law.
Prosecutors said it was actually Halat who took the money.
Board Chairman Ronald Cox said Fabian “did a wonderful thing for Mississippi,” but “has a brutal past” including the 1970 attacks on Trooper Wendell Lewis and Delhi Marshall Bill Curry, for which he was convicted of aggravated kidnapping.
The Dixie Mafia was the name lawmen gave a group of traveling criminals in the late 1960s.
Sposito said the investigation and prosecution of the Sherrys’ killers would have been impossible without Fabian, who is in an undisclosed prison under a federal witness protection program.
“It seems so bizarre that someone with that background would do the right thing,” she said.
The Associated Press, January 19, 2007, http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070119/NEWS/701190356/1001/NEWS