JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Jackson County judge handed down a 40 year sentence Monday to a man who killed his girlfriend and mother of his children. Marius Kirkland pleaded guilty to second degree murder for the 2011 stabbing death of Amanda Perkins. He's the first person in the state to be convicted of the new charge, which was created and signed into law this year.
Marius Kirkland stood in court Monday and apologized to Amanda's family for killing her. And he asked them to please take care of the kids the couple shared. Kirkland was arrested for stabbing Amanda five times at her Ocean Estates home in Gautier. The kids were there at the time.
"This was an argument over a separation, and I felt that the defendant deliberately acted that day. But he always maintained from the beginning that he didn't remember what he had done. We felt that we had circumstantial proof of his guilt," Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence said.
A grand jury indicted Kirkland on murder last year, and if convicted he could have spent life in prison. The next level was manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years behind bars. To fill in a gap in the state's murder system, the legislature passed a second degree murder statue this year.
"Too many times, we have people getting out of jail in seven years on a manslaughter charge. We are happy this defendant will serve 25 years day by day. We fill like we needed a middle ground and second degree filled that hole for us," Lawrence said.
Lawrence said the new law will help quickly resolve more difficult cases. He's also pleased to give justice to a grieving family.
"The family is obliviously sad; they will not have Amanda back. They recognize the three children will have to live the rest of their lives without their mother. Amanda was so full of life and really enjoyed life. She will be missed, but they are glad this is over."
As the district attorney mentioned, Kirkland was sentenced to 40 years in prison, but only 25 years of that time will be served day for day. The sentence will run consecutive to the ten year revocation sentence he is currently serving for a previous Burglary conviction. That means Kirkland will serve a total of 35 years, followed by 15 years on Post Release Supervision.
Once he is released, Kirkland will have to pay a $2,000 fine, another $250 to the Crime Victims Compensation fund, and all court costs.