Miss. lawmakers feel pressure over religion bill
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Lawmakers in conservative Mississippi find themselves in a tug-of-war over a religious-practices bill that some say is uncomfortably similar to one recently vetoed by Arizona's Republican governor.
A lobbying group for state's Baptist convention is urging lawmakers to pass the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Others say Mississippi, with its ugly history of racial oppression, should avoid any law that could lead to discrimination against gays and other groups.
A version of the bill passed the Senate and awaits House debate by next week. A House committee made some changes intended to assuage fears about discrimination by removing portions of the bill that were similar to the vetoed Arizona bill.
But critics say the Mississippi bill is vaguely worded and needs to be killed.
Memorial service held for Mayor Chokwe Lumumba
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The city of Jackson is mourning deceased Mayor Chokwe Lumumba (SHOW-kway Lu-MOOM-bah).
About 150 people gathered Friday outside Jackson's antebellum city hall.
Many are saluting Lumumba by remembering his work as a black nationalist who won the respect of wary white voters after his 2013 election. Ben Jealous, former president of the NAACP, is one of many echoing Lumumba's slogan of "free the land," saying Lumumba's work as a lawyer brought freedom to many who deserved it.
The service featured a mix of religious traditions, and combined elected officials with black nationalists.
The 66-year-old mayor died Feb. 25 and will be buried Saturday following a funeral service at the Jackson Convention Complex.
An election has been called for April 8 to choose a new mayor.
Student in fight at Moss Point school dies
MOSS POINT, Miss. (AP) - A 12-year-old junior high school student in Moss Point has died from injuries suffered in a fight.
Moss Point Superintendent Maggie Griffin identifies the victim as Lorel Malone. He was a seventh grader at Magnolia Middle School.
Officials did not release the grade, age or name of the other student involved in Thursday's fight.
Griffin says the investigation is ongoing. She offered no details on the altercation.
Moss Point School District spokeswoman Stephanie Packer says in a news release that the altercation between two students occurred during a class change.
Griffin says Malone was taken to Singing River Hospital and then transferred to the University of South Alabama Children's & Women's Hospital in Mobile where he died.
CORPS OF ENGINEERS-MISSISSIPPI
Cochran: Corps adds $14M for Mississippi projects
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi is one of only four states receiving additional funds from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for dredging and flood control along its major tributaries. That's according to U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.
Cochran, R-Miss., says in a news release that the Corps of Engineers will give an additional $14.4 million to Mississippi this year to support more dredging, flood control, and other construction and maintenance projects.
Cochran says Congress approved the additional funding in January.
He says some of the funds will go to dredging projects at the harbors at Rosedale, Greenville, Vicksburg, Gulfport and Pascagoula.
It will also assist with the maintenance of flood control projects like Arkabutla Lake, which provides critical flood protection for the Mississippi Delta while enhancing outdoor recreation and tourism.
PRENTISS CO SLAYING
Jeremy Huguley sentenced to 40 years for murder
BOONEVILLE, Miss. (AP) - A 24-year-old man has been sentenced to 40-year in prison for a 2010 Prentiss County murder.
Jeremy Huguley, of Rienzi, also received 25 years for burglary. The sentences will be served concurrently, and he must do long-term drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Huguley had previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and to burglary.
Huguley was the last witness to take the stand in his sentencing hearing Thursday and, with the help of his attorney Lori Nail Bashum, recounted the drug-induced week leading up the murder and robbery of Steven Holley before taking time to apologize to Holley's family.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that Huguley pleaded guilty to murder on Feb. 27 instead of going to trial. He had previously pleaded guilty to a burglary charge as well.
Byrd's sentencing on state charges delayed
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) - The sentencing for former Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd on one state charge has been moved to avoid a conflict with his sentencing on one federal charge, according to court documents.
Byrd will be sentenced on March 11 in U.S. District Court in Mobile, Ala., in his federal case.
The Mississippi Press reports his sentencing hearing on the state charge will be March 13 in the Jackson County Courthouse.
Byrd was originally indicted on 31 state charges but ended up pleading guilty to one charge of intimidating a witness. The other charges were dropped as part of a plea deal.
In the federal case, Byrd pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for ordering evidence destroyed stemming from the arrest of James Mark Stahl.
Man arrested for flashing badge
NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) - Officials say a 65-year-old Natchez man has been arrested for reportedly flashing a badge and impersonating an officer after he rear-ended a driver in October.
Natchez Police Lt. Craig Godbold tells The Natchez Democrat that Joe Fortenberry allegedly pulled out a badge claiming he was a sheriff's deputy after he hit a vehicle while in the drive-thru line on Oct. 9.
An Adams County Sheriff's Office spokesman says Fortenberry was given an honorary deputy's badge by a sheriff prior to Sheriff Chuck Mayfield taking office. Honorary deputies are not deputized and do not have the authority to arrest anyone.
Fortenberry was charged with impersonating an officer, a misdemeanor, and later released on a $726 bond.
It was unclear whether Fortenberry has an attorney.
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