Military blows up mortar left for judge as a gift

It was the gift that came with a bang.

The wife of Mississippi Judge Charlie Vess found a mortar shell on the couple's patio in Natchez this week. They called the sheriff's office.

The sheriff called Fort Polk, an Army base in neighboring Louisiana. It sent a bomb team to blow up the mortar at the Natchez-Adams County Airport on Wednesday.

Turns out, the judge collects military memorabilia and a friend had left the mortar as a gift. There was no note and military explosive experts said it could have been a live phosphorus round because it didn't appear to have been taken apart. The sheriff's department, however, said Thursday in a news release that information it obtained since then indicates it was not a live round.

"I think people may not want to give me little happies like that anymore," Vess, an Adams County Justice Court judge, told The Associated Press.

The judge said he suspected that the round was a gift, but judges make decisions that make some people angry, and there have been cases in the United States were judges were targeted for revenge.

"I do preliminary hearing in murders, rapes and robberies and lots of other stuff," Vess said.

Vess said he hasn't had a chance to talk to the friend who left the mortar, and he didn't provide his name. The sheriff's office said investigators spoke to the man, but wouldn't provide his name, either.

"I'm glad that it turned out that it was a gift from a friend," Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said in a statement. "I suspected all along that was what it was, but it's good to know without a doubt that there was no hostile intent or malice behind it. We now consider this case 'Closed'."