Easterling to serve 30 years for Preservation Oaks murder

Diaz 'Dez' Easterling at the time of his arrest in 2012. (Photo source: Gulfport Police Dept.)
Diaz 'Dez' Easterling at the time of his arrest in 2012. (Photo source: Gulfport Police Dept.)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport man will spend a total of 30 years in prison for the shooting death of 19-year-old Retrick 'Jacoby' Matthews in 2012. Diaz 'Dez' Easterling, now 20, pleaded guilty to Second Degree Murder Tuesday.

Judge Roger Clark sentenced Easterling to 40 years, suspending 10 of those years, for a total of 30 years in prison. Upon his release, Easterling will be placed on five years probation.

The fatal shooting happened at West Beach Blvd and Preservation Oaks, located on the beach near Island View Casino in Gulfport. Investigators said the trouble started when a fight broke out between several recent high school graduates.

Easterling told officers when he was hit, he pulled out a gun and fired. Matthews was struck in the head and died about 40 minutes later at the hospital.

"Investigators were able to interview other eyewitnesses to the shooting that stated that Easterling was the only person who had a gun during the altercation," said ADA Crosby Parker, who prosecuted the case along with Shundral Hobson.

At his plea hearing, Easterling apologized to Matthews's family and confessed to the court that he shot the gun as he was running away from the altercation.

During the sentencing phase of the hearing, Matthew's family expressed to the court that although no amount of time or sentence will bring their son back, this guilty plea and sentence helps to provide some closure and allows the family to move forward.

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