Capital murder suspect's suicide attempt leads to mistrial

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The search for justice is on hold for the family of a Biloxi murder victim. The trial of John Paul Necaise came to a shocking end after Necaise tried to commit suicide Thursday. Necaise is charged with capital murder in the 2008 kidnapping and stabbing death of Frank Roberts.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said Thursday afternoon that Necaise was breathing on his own. He was rushed to Memorial Hospital earlier in the day after authorities say he hanged himself in a courthouse holding cell.

Prosecutors planned to call one last witness before resting their case against Necaise. However, the courtroom sat empty.

"Today, the judge granted a mistrial based on a communication he received from the hospital which indicated the defendant would not be fit to stand trial physically for at least a week,"said Joel Smith, Assistant District Attorney. "So the judge granted a mistrial, advised the jurors and released them."

Sheriff Melvin Brisolara said Necaise was in his holding cell changing out of his jail suit into clothes for court when he used a belt to hang himself. The District Attorney's office must now decide whether a new trial will be possible.

"At this point we will wait until the doctors finish their testing of the defendant," said Smith. "When they provide us with a follow up report of his condition and long term diagnosis or prognosis, then we will evaluate whether or not he's capable of standing trial."

Necaise is accused of killing businessman Frank Roberts, 78, whose body was found in a wooded area in Gulfport in November 2008. The Roberts family left the Harrison County Courthouse on Thursday knowing their hope to hold someone responsible for this murder would have to wait.

"At this point, it's an indefinite period of time," Smith said. "This makes it difficult for the family because they can't receive closure at this point and it prolongs that process for them."

A second family looking for justice for a loved one was also at the courthouse. Relatives of Floyd Price, a Hancock County man who disappeared in 2004, has been sitting in on the Necaise trial. Hancock County Sheriff's investigators say Price, 79, wrote a sizeable check to Necaise the same day he went missing.

No one has ever been charged in Price's disappearance, but his brother believes Necaise knows something. J.C. Price says had Necaise been convicted of killing Frank Roberts, he planned to offer him money to reveal the location of his brother's remains so the family can give Floyd Price a proper burial.

"Well, from what I've heard this morning, I may not get the chance to ask him that. I don't know,"said J.C. Price.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.