Attempted Murder bill heads to MS House for debate

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Some Mississippi lawmakers and prosecutors said a criminal shouldn't be rewarded for being a bad shot. Right now there is no attempted murder charge in our state. This week the House is expected to take up that debate. The bill's author, Rep. Bill Denny of Jackson and others pushing for the change spoke to WLOX on Sunday.

Back in October Jackson County deputies arrested Willie McCann, Sr. for allegedly shooting his own son in the stomach with a 12-gauge shot gun after an argument. Prosecutors charged McCann with aggravated assault. That might have been different if Mississippi had an attempted murder charge.

District Attorney Tony Lawrence handles cases in Jackson and George counties.

"An attempted murder statute would assist prosecutors greatly because it would be a charge more than aggravated assault, but less than homicide," said Lawrence. "Aggravated assault only carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in Mississippi. Sometimes it's clear that a person intends to take another person's life."

Rep. Casey Eure of D'Iberville is on the House judiciary committee that sent the attempted murder statute to the full House for debate.

"It also gives our prosecutors another resource just murder, manslaughter or aggravated assault," said Eure. "I believe it is need because if someone attempts to kill someone it should be attempted murder."

For years lawmakers have failed to send the bill to the Governor's desk. Rep. Bill Denny said most in the House and the Senate want to see attempted murder become law, but the chambers haven't been able to work out differences on what would then constitute aggravated assault.

"The Senate assigned conferees. The House never assigned conferees. Obviously those charged with assigning conferees in the House didn't want to fool with it and let it die. I gathered they are concerned it would water down the aggravated assaulted statute. I'm not a lawyer, but I don't agree with that," Denny said.

If the bill passes, anyone convicted of attempted murder would have to serve 20 years to life in prison. Criminals would automatically receive life in prison if convicted of attempted murder a second time or if the victim is a police officer.

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