The wheels of justice continue to turn for the man that once was the highest law enforcement official in Jackson County. Former Sheriff, Mike Byrd, faced part one of his fate in a Mobile courtroom this morning. Byrd pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice back in December, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years and a $250,000 fine. Tuesday, a long awaited sentence finally came down on the former law enforcement leader. Byrd smiled as he left the federal courthouse in Mobile Tuesday morning. Moments earlier, a judge sentenced him to six months of house arrest followed by six months of probation. Greg Bordenkircher, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, says, “This case was quickly investigated and handled in an expeditious manner. Given the totality of the circumstances, I thought it was a very just decision by the court.”
Byrd was also fined $3,000 as part of a plea deal after the former Sheriff pleaded guilty to one federal count of witness tampering. In court, Byrd apologized for his actions and Judge William Steele went along with the prosecution's recommended sentence. Bordenkirchser also says, “It’s important for the people to know that everyone is treated the same, whether you're law enforcement, non-law enforcement, rich or poor, no one should be above the law.” Now that Byrd's federal case has been taken care of, he still faces a state charge, a sentence that is still in the air as attorney, Joe Sam Owen, tries to work out a deal so that he can serve his house arrest concurrently. Owen says, "There wasn’t any question about what the arrangement or the recommendation would be, in terms of the so called sentence. There was no question."
Owen says that back in October, Jackson County District Attorney, Tony Lawrence, agreed to recommend the same sentence handed down for the federal charge. Owen says that Lawrence is now pushing for a harsher sentence. Owen closes, "We do have a disagreement and that’s going to have to be discussed and Judge Coleman will have to make a decision." That decision is expected to be handed down in a Pascagoula courtroom on Thursday. For the state charge, Jackson County District Attorney initially recommended 18 months of house arrest, and $7,000 in fines and investigative costs. All this will be on top of Byrd resigning from his post as Sheriff back in December.