Capital murder suspect’s preliminary hearing

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The suspect in the murder of Biloxi Police Officer Robert McKeithen had his preliminary hearing today in Biloxi. Harrison County prosecutors presented their evidence against Darian Atkinson with the hope of obtaining a trial.

As you may remember, there was a smile on the face of Darian Atkinson as he was taken into police custody for the murder of Biloxi Police Officer Robert McKeithen. Today he kept that same smile on his face as he entered the Harrison County Courtroom for his preliminary hearing. Harrison County Prosecutor Herman Cox said, “Well, I believe it is clear from the evidence that this defendant went to the Biloxi Police Department to ambush and kill a police officer. Based on the evidence, he clearly did that. Based on this type of case, this is why we have the death penalty in Mississippi.”

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And the death penalty is what the prosecution will pursue. Gulfport Police Detective Samuel Jewel was called upon to testify at the hearing, revealing new information on exactly what happened before and after the murder of Officer McKeithen.

Jewel presented new information surrounding the case, stating that the suspect was just an ‘arm’s length away’ before firing nine rounds at the Biloxi police officer. Three bullets hitting McKeithen’s bulletproof vest, another grazing his head, and the rest hitting his body.

Cox tells News 25 that the Lopez Quave Public Safety Building does have surveillance and the footage from that evening should be the key evidence in the case. “I have viewed it. I will tell you, it’s very explicit and shocking. It shows in great detail how he ambushed and executed Officer McKeithen.”



Officer McKeithen’s family watched on as Atkinson appeared unfazed and uninterested in the testimony, shaking his head and even giggling at points of the hearing, even burping as his attorney addressed Jewel.

Despite Atkinson’s attitude, Cox believes they have plenty of evidence to warrant a conviction if the case goes to trial. “I think the evidence is overwhelming. You’ve heard a summary of it and so I think no doubt that he committed the crime.”

Judge Hewes determined that there was enough evidence to present the case to a Harrison County grand jury. Atkinson is still being held without bond.