MISSISSIPPI SHERIFF INDICTED
Byrd pleads guilty, resigns as Jackson Co. sheriff
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) - Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd has pleaded guilty to a state felony and will resign immediately.
Byrd on Thursday pleaded guilty in circuit court to one charge of intimidating a witness.
As part of Byrd's plea agreement, District Attorney Tony Lawrence dismissed 28 other felony charges and two misdemeanor offenses.
The 64-year-old Byrd will be sentenced March 12.
His resignation is effective immediately. He originally said in a letter to Jackson County supervisors on Wednesday night that the resignation would take effect Dec. 31.
Mississippi law does not allow a convicted felon to hold public office.
CHILD SEX ABUSE-INVESTIGATION
Man sentenced to 40 years in sex attack on child
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A man has been sentenced to 40 years in federal prison in a child sex trafficking case for the videotaped attack on a 4-year-old girl in Mississippi.
Marco Laquin Rogers, shackled and wearing a red prison uniform, hung his head as U.S. District Judge David Bramlette sentenced him Thursday in federal court in Jackson.
Rogers, who was living in Atlanta when he was arrested, apologized to the victim and her family.
In a letter read by a prosecutor, the girl's mother called the 27-year-old Rogers a "monster" who stole her child's innocence.
Another suspect, 27-year-old Jemery Atral Hodges, pleaded guilty in June and cooperated with authorities. He was previously sentenced to 23 years.
Authorities say both men sexually assaulted the child at a Jackson hotel in May 2012.
GULF OIL SPILL-INDICTMENT
Ex-BP engineer isn't expected to testify at trial
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A former BP drilling engineer isn't expected to testify at his trial on charges he deleted text messages about the company's response to its massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
According to a trial transcript, a lawyer for Kurt Mix told a judge and prosecutor that her client isn't one of three witnesses whom defense attorneys plan to call to testify once they begin presenting their case on Friday.
Justice Department prosecutors called their final witness on Wednesday. Jurors are expected to hear closing arguments from the attorneys on Monday before they start deliberating.
Mix pleaded not guilty to charges he deliberately deleted text messages to and from a supervisor and a BP contractor to stymie a grand jury's probe of the spill.
BRYANT SPOKESMAN LEAVING
Bullock leaving as spokesman for Miss. governor
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mick Bullock, the spokesman for Gov. Phil Bryant, is leaving to become communications director of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Bullock joined Bryant's staff when Bryant was state auditor and stayed to work in the Iieutenant governor's and governor's offices.
He begins his new job Jan. 6.
The NCSL, which is located in Washington, provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on state issues.
The governor's office has announced that Nicole Webb, who has been deputy director of communications for almost two years, will take over Bullock's job.
JACKSON CATHOLIC DIOCESE
New bishop in Jackson diocese
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Rev. Joseph Kopacz has been appointed bishop of Diocese of Jackson.
Kopacz succeeds Bishop Joseph Latino who reached the age of retirement.
The appointment by Pope Francis was announced Wednesday and was released by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.
The 63-year-old Kopacz will be ordained and installed on Feb. 6 at noon in the Cathedral of Saint Peter the Apostle in Jackson.
Kopacz is a priest of the Diocese of Scranton, Pa., and was ordained in 1977.
Latino will be administrator of the diocese until the installation. Latino submitted his letter of resignation on Oct. 21, 2012 having reached the age limit of 75 for bishops in the Catholic Church.
PRISON PIPE BOMB
2 men in pipe bomb case to be sentenced
GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - Two men in a federal case alleging they made pipe bombs, including one found in a vehicle during a routine check of visitors' cars at a state prison in Leakesville, will be sentenced Dec. 17.
Federal court records show John Eric Harberson of Carriere and Scott Jenkins Waits of McHenry will be sentenced in federal court in Gulfport. Both pleaded guilty in July.
Waits and Harberson were arrested after officers at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution found a pipe bomb in a vehicle June 1.
Authorities say Harberson had driven a woman to the prison to visit an inmate.
Harberson told agents he and Waits had built the pipe bombs from aluminum flashlight bodies, shotgun shells, black powder and candle wax. He said he forgot it was in the car.
Condemned inmate wins appeal to Miss. high court
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi Supreme Court has ordered a Harrison County judge to determine if Alan Dale Walker was given adequate legal representation during a sentencing hearing in which he got the death penalty.
Alan Dale Walker said in court documents his attorneys were inadequate at two stages of his case - during the penalty phase of his trial and in the following post-conviction proceedings.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision Thursday, said Walker has shown that he was prejudiced by the actions of his attorney and hearing was needed.
The court said if the Harrison County judge finds that Walker's legal representation was deficient, he will vacate the death sentence and hold a new sentencing hearing.
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