Gulfport Man Gets 30 Years for Death of a Homeless Man

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A 33-year-old Gulfport man will serve 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to the murder of a homeless man.

James Christopher Woodard entered his plea to a charge of second degree murder in the 2017 death of another homeless man, Ronald Spencer, Jr.

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Police found the victim back in July of 2017 near 28th Street and 30th Avenue near the railroad tracks, lying in a tent nearby with serious injuries to his head and face.Police say Spencer was beaten with a lead pipe.

He died from his injuries a few days later at a local hospital. Witnesses told police Woodard and the victim had an altercation earlier that day.

Woodard was set to go to trial next week, but instead entered a guilty plea. At his plea hearing this week, Woodard told the judge he had used a lot of drugs and was sorry for what happened. He asked the judge to allow him to get drug and alcohol treatment while in prison. Since Woodard is a habitual offender, he will not be eligible for early release or parole.