DeSoto County

Barton charges Zimmerman evidence video was deleted from server

Photo: DeSoto County District Attorney Matthew Barton holds a news conference on the Joshua Zimmerman escape case on Thursday, June 20. (Bob Bakken/  

As of late Thursday afternoon, June 20, escaped accused murderer Joshua Zimmerman has disappeared and not been seen since he left the DeSoto County Courthouse in Hernando on Friday, June 14. 

DeSoto County District Attorney Matthew Barton told reporters Thursday afternoon during a news conference that something else has disappeared: video of Zimmerman’s departure from the courthouse that was on the DA’s office evidence server. 

Barton said that his office is starting its own grand jury investigation into the case because, as he charged, an “entity” he would not identify, went onto the DA’s server where evidence is kept on Wednesday, and deleted the video his office obtained regarding the Zimmerman case.

“Some co-conspirators from an outside entity, not the state of Mississippi, but local entities directed the county IT to go on to my server and delete state’s evidence,” Barton stated. “So the video that I had obtained through lawful, traditional and appropriate manners in the scope of my duties was deleted.” 

The grand jury investigation, which could start its work as soon as next week, will now address several issues: inspection of the county courthouse facilities, conditions about the safe keeping of inmates, and the grand jury will also investigate Zimmerman’s escape. 

The deletion of the video will also come under investigation and felony charges could be brought for tampering with the evidence. Barton revealed that he had confronted the person he said had gone in and removed the video, but did not identify that person. He said there was an admission from the person that the video had been deleted. .  

“We were not done completely processing or evaluating the video before it was taken from us,” Barton said. “Some of my investigator staff had gotten up to watch it, but the rest of us did not before it was taken.”  

The district attorney said the video showed all of the escape footage of when Zimmerman was in the DeSoto County Courthouse for a hearing that Friday morning, from when he entered the courthouse to the time he stepped out and disappeared. 

He added a grand jury subpoena was issued Thursday on the county sheriff’s department and county administration for the video, which would then be given to the grand jury.  

Zimmerman was being held in DeSoto County on attempted murder and robbery charges, but was also being held here in connection with a 2023 murder he was alleged to have committed in Houston, Texas. DeSoto County Jail information also indicates a fugitive charge from Connecticut.  

The U.S. Marshals Service and DeSoto County District Attorney’s Office have offered $5,000 each for information regarding the Zimmerman case and escape, for a total of $10,000 in reward money. He remains at large and anyone with information about Zimmerman’s whereabouts is urged to contact law enforcement. 

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