Victim left near death, suspect out on bond

Kerry L. Scruggs

On July 26, the Lee County Sheriff Department responded to NMMC to a report of an individual that had been severely beaten.

Upon arrival deputies found the victim had serious injuries to his facial and head areas.

“The mother of the victim called enroute to the hospital. She had received a call from a person, who was there, when this took place,” said Lee County Sheriff’s Department investigator Brian Kilgore. “They told her ‘Hey, your son got beat up pretty bad here, and he’s still over here at this house.’ So the mother went to the house where she found him.”

Further investigation into the incident revealed that Kerry L. Scruggs, of Saltillo, had went to where the victim was working on his truck and attacked the victim and beat him unconscious. The beating took place in East Tupelo, just off Elvis Presley Lake Road.

“I think there were a lot of issues between these two, the victim stated they had a female friend in common,” Kilgore said. “He (the victim) felt like that was what it was about.”

During the investigation, investigators learned the beating took place about 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The 911 call was placed 10 a.m. Sunday. The victim had remained unconscious during that time.

A lead pipe had been used.

“There were broken bones. He was basically left unconscious by a group of people, they picked the boy up, took him into this house and his mama found him the next morning,” Kilgore said. “I talked with him (the victim) Monday and his nose was still bleeding. He had a small brain bleed. His face was basically shattered. They just left him there to die, or someone to find him.”

A warrant was then issued for the arrest of the suspect for Aggravated Assault due to the extent of the injuries the victim incurred.

“There are degrees of assault. The worst, the most horrific assault there is — is aggravated assault,” Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said. “There’s no attempted murder. There’s aggravated assault and the next step is death. The victim was on that threshold.”

Scruggs, 46, was on Federal Probation and was out on a federal possession of a firearm charge.

“The probation officer couldn’t pull up that original case, but I believe it was a pretty big drug traffic stop, which had been made. He (Scruggs) had a firearm and that led to those charges,” Kilgore said.

This would be the suspect’s third felony charge which could lead to him becoming a habitual offender.

“At this point, we’re able to use this habitual status, which means he’s already struck out twice — and you see what he’s done — he’s almost killed a man,” Johnson said. “Probation hasn’t done him (Scruggs) any good, incarcerating him and giving him a second chance has not worked so with the habitual status — whatever time he gets, he’s supposed to serve all of that.

“So this is where we’re at with this new criminal justice reform — it’s affecting all of us. The state has saved money by not having this guy incarcerated, but what did it save the victim It almost cost his life.”

The suspect was arraigned by a Lee County Justice Court Judge and bond set at $10,000. Scruggs met bail and is now back out on the street, awaiting grand jury.

“He could go right back out there (the crime scene). Criminal justice is not looking out for the victim he whipped. That’s not their interest,” Johnson said. “The law prohibits an agency from holding someone — just because they are on probation or parole. It’s strictly up to the agency, who is handling his probation.

“As you know, this new criminal justice reform is non-incarceration. That’s the whole key - not to incarcerate people. And you see how well it’s working. He got back out, beat up somebody and now he’s out there again.”

If you have additional information about this crime, please call (662) 841-9040.

“But look — we can tell the victims we’re saving money, because those thugs are not locked up,” Johnson said. “We may put that saying on our cars.”

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