Charges on Sheriff Byrd Dropped

Contributor: Sarah Duffey
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Updated: 12/12/2013 6:44 pm
During today's status conference, it was announced that the state and Byrd reached a plea agreement for him to step down immediately. According to the plea agreement, Byrd is to serve one and a half years of house arrest, pay a 2,000 dollar fine, and pay 5,000 dollars in investigative costs. In return, District Attorney, Tony Lawrence, agreed to drop 30 of the 31 counts against him, except one count of intimidating a witness. Byrd’s attorney, Joe Sam Owen, says, "I think he's relieved, yeah." Byrd’s Twenty eight felony charges and two misdemeanors have been dismissed through a plea deal between the State of Mississippi and the now, former sheriff. Byrd pled guilty to one felony charge of intimidating a witness. Byrd admitted to attempting to induce Deputy Chad Powell to lie to a grand jury and tell them he was struck by concrete fragments during a July 31st, 2012 shooting at the office of the Narcotics Task Force of Jackson County that went unreported.

Byrd's attorney, Joe Sam Owen, says they decided to plea out the case because of the risk involved in moving forward with a trial. Owen, says, "It's family issues, it’s emotional issues, it’s risk, it’s cost, it's ranker within the county, it’s acrimony that exists amongst the people you thought were your friends." The state recommends Byrd should be sentenced to a year and a half of house arrest, although Judge Coleman can deny that recommendation and sentence him up to five years in prison. Most importantly was for Byrd to resign from office immediately, which Byrd has now done. District Attorney, Tony Lawrence, believes this deal is fair for all parties involved. Lawrence says, "I think it’s fair. I wouldn't have done it if I didn't think it was fair to both sides: the citizens and to the defendant. Like I said before, it’s time we move on. We need to heal." Sentencing is set for March 11th, 2014. Ironically, the room was full of law enforcement officers. They were showing their support for District Attorney, Tony Lawrence, and not the former sheriff. Most, if not all of those officers, had prior run-ins with Byrd.

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