Kidnapping suspect: ‘not guilty’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 19, 2004

A Selma man charged with three counts of kidnapping first degree and one count of assault first degree pleaded not guilty before Fourth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Jack Meigs on Tuesday.

Eric Jerome Peterson, 20, appeared before Meigs with his attorney, Alston Keith, for his arraignment.

Before hearing his plea, though, Meigs held a youthful offender hearing for Peterson. According to Dallas County District Attorney Ed Greene, the court is required to consider youthful offender status for anyone between the ages of 18 and 21.

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Greene opposed moving the hearing to juvenile court.

“It doesn’t mean he’s guilty or innocent,” Greene said. “We objected because he’s been in juvenile court six times on various matters.”

Other arguments for denying youthful offender status included the nature of Peterson’s charges, which stem from a Feb. 17 incident. Greene said that Peterson caused serious injuries to motorists and used a firearm during the alleged kidnapping of a man and two children.

Meigs denied the youthful offender status before taking Peterson’s plea and setting his trial date for Aug. 2. “They asked for a bond reduction, and the judge said he’d be interested in increasing it,” Greene said.

Peterson is being held under a $125,000 bond at the Dallas County Jail.

Law enforcement authorities arrested Peterson after he allegedly took control of a car and fled police. The incident occurred around 3 p.m. Feb. 17 when officer Evelyn Ghant allegedly observed Peterson pull a knife on the female driver, forcing her to elude the officer.

The female drove only a short distance before Peterson allegedly forced her from the car and sped off with a male passenger and two children, ages one and four.

Shortly after crossing Beech Creek Bridge, Peterson allegedly lost control of his vehicle and veered into oncoming traffic. The car collided head-on with a 2000 model Dodge Neon.

The driver and passenger of the Neon, Joseph Grandison and Miriam Ramsey, were injured in the accident.

The passengers in the car Peterson allegedly apprehended only received minor injuries.