GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A man who fled the state in the middle of his trial will spend the rest of his life behind bars, after being labeled a "habitual offender."
Michael Leroy Knight, 54, was sentenced this week to serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole or early release. He was convicted in April of two counts of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.
During that April trial, officers testified they executed a search warrant on a hotel room at the America's Best Value Inn on Highway 49 in Gulfport. Inside the hotel room, officers found several pill bottles belonging to the Knight and his wife. They contained 68 units of oxycodone and 297 units of methadone. Officers also testified that more than 300 pills were missing from prescriptions, which had just been filled within the last two days.
Investigators said Knight described to them how he would travel to Alabama to get prescriptions, then sell those same pills for profit.
On day two of his trial, Knight fled to Louisiana, but that didn't stop jurors from finding him guilty. Knight was eventually captured after a car crash in Louisiana and extradited back to Mississippi for his sentencing.
The defendant was prosecuted by the state as a habitual offender due to his prior felony convictions, including a manslaughter conviction in 1976 and a 2nd Degree murder conviction from Florida in 1985.
"Judge Dodson's sentence took into account this defendant's career of crime, including two prior homicides, when she imposed the maximum sentence under Mississippi's third strike law for violent habitual criminals," said District Attorney Joel Smith.
"This was a multi-agency investigation, led by the Gulfport Police Department, where the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, and the DEA worked alongside them to build this case for a successful prosecution. Without the teamwork of these agencies, we would not have been able to procure today's life sentence," said ADA Matthew Burrell, who prosecuted the case.