Defendant misses hearing in St. Helena truck stop killing case

GREENSBURG A bond reduction hearing for an Amite woman charged with second-degree murder in a truck stop slaying had to be continued Friday when authorities failed to transport the defendant from the Richland Parish Detention Center in Rayville to the St. Helena Parish Courthouse as requested.

Stacey Self, 42, 3799 Leonard Chapel Road, allegedly shot Jamilia Smith, 25, in the back of the head with a shotgun on Oct. 23, after Smith and Self’s daughter got into an argument in the parking lot of the Tall Timbers Truck Stop on La. 16 west of Amite, investigators said at the time. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene.

It was unclear why the Richland Parish Detention Center failed to transport Self to Friday’s hearing. District Judge Elizabeth Wolfe, who is presiding over the case, said Self also was not transported to a hearing last week in Tangipahoa Parish, where Self is facing unrelated charges.

Self’s attorney, Michael Thiel, filed a motion to reduce bail in the St. Helena case from $500,000 to the $150,000 recommended in the 21st Judicial District’s bail schedule for second-degree murder defendants.

“There has never been a contradictory hearing on the bond,” Thiel said Friday. “Without some showing by the state to the contrary, my client is entitled to the scheduled amount of $150,000.”

Thiel said there had been a “meeting of the minds” with the Sheriff’s Office on the bail reduction until a background check on Self revealed four prior convictions, including one for aggravated battery.

“We believe this is an issue of safety for the community,” Assistant District Attorney Richard McShan said. “There was a confrontation between the families (of the victim and the defendant) after the last hearing.”

But Thiel said there was no indication that his client had instigated or participated in any confrontations.

“We can’t control other people. If they’re violating the law, then action should be taken to arrest them, but that shouldn’t adversely affect my client,” Thiel said. “My client has been locked up, and apparently the danger exists whether she’s locked up or not.”

The motion to reduce bail was reset for April 29. McShan said he would prepare the transfer order for Self to be transported from the Rayville facility on that date.