Former Jackson County Sheriff, Mike Byrd, was back in court Thursday, this time in Pascagoula. Byrd was sentenced for his state charges Thursday afternoon, but not without some controversy. The state spent the afternoon pushing for a sentence three times the length of what Byrd ultimately received. Coleman says, “I sentence you to six months house arrest with the Mississippi Department of Corrections. You have brought shame and disgrace on yourself as an individual, and as a law enforcement officer.” In court, Judge William Coleman sealed the fate of Byrd. The former Jackson County Sheriff will spend the next six months under house arrest for both his state and federal felony charges. Joe Sam Owens, Byrd’s attorney, says, "It’s the best thing he could have gotten and he’s very fortunate and I think he’s elated and at the same time, I think he feels some relief.”
A heated debate ensued when the state and defense clashed over an alleged deal laying out the length of Byrd's sentence, forcing Judge Coleman to demand a ten minute recess. Owen also says, "We were both adamant in our positions, so we really didn’t have any discussion about splitting the difference or anything else.” Upon their return, they decided to leave the decision in the Judge’s hands, who sentenced Byrd to serve house arrest concurrently with his federal sentence. Tony Lawrence, Jackson County District Attorney, says, “I think the actions he took as Sheriff in this county, in his latter years, deserve more punishment than what he got today.” The state and the defense could not come to an agreement over what the length of Mike Byrd’s house arrest should be, but Lawrence insists this is not a game of ‘good ‘ole boy’ politics. Lawrence also says, “I don’t think the ‘good ‘ole boy’ system controlled the case. If the ‘good ‘ole boy’ system did, Mike Byrd would still be your Sheriff today. All this would’ve been avoided and they wouldn’t have done anything to him.”
Tuesday, Byrd was sentenced to six months of house arrest and six months of probation for a witness tampering charge. In Thursday's sentencing, Byrd was given three years of probation for intimidating a witness on top of the concurrent six months of house arrest and fines. Throughout the hearing, Byrd remained silent, a far cry from the smile he displayed after his federal sentencing on Tuesday.