Through legislation some state senators are taking aim at the state's current murder law because of what they feel is a lack of justice for victims.
"A lot of times these crimes get plead down to a manslaughter and the max that person can do is 20 years," said Senator Sean Tindell, a republican from Gulfport.
That could all change. Under a senate bill which passed Thursday morning, a second degree murder charge would be added to Mississippi law. Currently there's only one murder statute in the state which carries a life sentence. The next tier is manslaughter which carries up to 20 years. Under the bill, a second degree murder charge would carry a sentence of 25 years to life.
"This gives us an option in those cases that now may fall somewhere between murder and manslaughter," said Michael Guest, district attorney for Madison and Rankin Counties.
Guest says the addition of second degree murder would give juries and judges discretion on convictions and sentences.
"The sentence that could be imposed in this bill is still life, so I feel that this in no means weakens current laws," said Guest.
The state prosecutors association is backing the bill and even helped draft it. However, Jones County assistant district attorney J. Ronald Parrish isn't on board with the idea.
"We've always had it in this state where murder means murder." said Parrish.
Parrish says the new category would decrease the penalties for current murder charges.
"They propose to classify certain murders as second degree where the person could possibly get off with a sentence as little as 20 years, which is less than you can get for selling ten dollars worth of cocaine," said Parrish.
Currently 34 other states have a second degree murder charge on the books. The Mississippi house has even passed a similar bill to the one passed by the senate. Those two bills could soon make Mississippi state number 35.
Thursday, May 23 2013 7:31 PM EDT2013-05-23 23:31:22 GMT
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Thursday, May 23 2013 9:13 PM EDT2013-05-24 01:13:14 GMT
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Thursday, May 23 2013 2:07 PM EDT2013-05-23 18:07:42 GMT
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Thursday, May 23 2013 5:38 PM EDT2013-05-23 21:38:18 GMT
The picture of a George County dog set on fire is disturbing. Authorities say the circumstances surrounding how fire consumed the dog are shocking. According to George County Sheriff Dean Howell, 20-year-oldMore >>
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Thursday, May 23 2013 9:28 AM EDT2013-05-23 13:28:21 GMT
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Thursday, May 23 2013 7:17 PM EDT2013-05-23 23:17:05 GMT
James Hutto interrupted his own capital murder trial Tuesday morning, angry that judge Bill Gowan decided against the admissibility of certain evidence. "None of that matters? F***. I don't give a f***More >>
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