Convicted murderer set to die nearly 25 years after teen's death - - The News for South Mississippi

Convicted murderer set to die nearly 25 years after teen's death

Krystal King Krystal King
Gerald Holland (Photo source: MS Dept. of Corrections) Gerald Holland (Photo source: MS Dept. of Corrections)

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Nearly 25 years after her brutal rape and murder, Krystal King's family will finally be able to watch her killer put to death. On Thursday, Gerald James Holland is scheduled to die by lethal injection for killing the Harrison County teenager. The lead police investigator and the prosecutor who made the case to put Holland on death row talked about the murder.

On September 12th, 1986, Krystal King's lifeless body was found in a shallow grave in the woods. Those charged with bringing her killer to justice say it was a gruesome murder.

"It was one of the most reprehensible acts one human could do to another." said District Attorney Cono Caranna. "I think there were multiple insults to her body. Stab wounds, choking, rape. It was just awful."

D'Iberville Police Chief Wayne Payne was a Gulfport detective back in '86. He said witnesses led the investigation right to Gerald James Holland.

"We went to the house where it occurred at and that's where Gerald Holland was located," Chief Payne said. "When we got inside, he was sitting down watching TV and drinking a beer."

The next year an Adams County jury convicted Holland of capital murder. As prosecutors and defense attorneys prepared for the penalty phase, the jury sent the judge a note.

"The jury came out and said 'We find that Gerald Holland should be put to death for his crime,'" said Caranna. "You can't do that. You have to have a sentencing hearing. So we went forward with the sentencing hearing with everyone in the courtroom, lawyers and everybody else, knowing we were going to have to come back another day to have a real sentencing hearing. Because this jury had shown it already had its mind made up without looking at any evidence."

As expected, the state Supreme Court threw out the sentence. Then in 1991, Caranna convinced a different jury that Holland should die, but that wouldn't happen before 19 years of appeals.

"The system has become absolutely ridiculous when it comes to death penalty cases," Caranna said. "When you're dealing with the very same facts and you're just trying to present them in a different way to appeal to an appellate court somewhere, then I think there is abuse in the system."

Chief Payne said, "We've got a family that lost a daughter. Every time you have a retrial, every time there's something in the paper, there's no closure for that family. Hopefully tomorrow there will be closure."

"This was a horrible crime. Truly horrible crime because he cut her up also," said Chief Payne. "If there was ever a person that deserved to die, he certainly is. He's certainly the one."

Gerald James Holland is scheduled to die at six o'clock. Krystal King's family tells WLOX that her two sisters will be present, but her mother has decided not to attend. Krystal was murdered on her 15th birthday.

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