GREENSBORO, N.C. — A team searching a Mississippi courthouse basement for evidence about the lynching of Black teenager, Emmett Till, has found an unserved warrant for Carolyn Bryant Donham. Leflore County Circuit Clerk Elmus Stockstill told The Associated Press, Donham's name --- identified as “Mrs. Roy Bryant” on the document was discovered inside a file folder, last week.
Now in her 80s, Donham is most recently known to live in North Carolina. At the time of the slaying, she was married to one of two white men tried and acquitted just weeks after Till was kidnapped from a relative’s home, killed, and dumped into a river.
The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation and two Till relatives: cousin Deborah Watts, head of the foundation; and her daughter, Teri Watts want authorities to use the warrant to arrest Donham.
Attorney Jason Keith with Keith Law & Associates said under North Carolina law that is possible.
"Actually, it actually can happen, the warrant was actually issued in Mississippi, and assuming that the warrant hasn't been dissolved and that is still active, the warrant actually should and could be served," Keith said.
He said the warrant does fall under the Mississippi governorship but, stale warrants usually stay alive until served on the individual mentioned in a case.
If North Carolina law enforcement wants to move forward with the warrant, Mississippi officials would have to start the process.
"Mississippi would send a warrant to North Carolina. The state would respond by issuing the warrant on behalf of Mississippi upon Ms. Donham. Because Mississippi is the actual issuing state, that actually wants Ms. Donham to actually report back, and potentially be held accountable for crimes," said Keith.
He also said charging people for crimes committed several years in the past is not uncommon. He said new evidence and failure to serve warrants have led to court trials and convictions in recent years.
According to the AP, Mississippi District Attorney Dewayne Richardson, whose office would prosecute a case, declined comment on the warrant but cited a December report about the Till case from the Justice Department, which said no prosecution was possible.
The AP also reached out to Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks who said: “This is the first time I’ve known about a warrant.”