HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Kiln man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for shooting and killing his roommate in 2013. Gary Thomas Topham, 57, pleaded guilty to one count of murder and two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer Tuesday.
Jury selection for the case was set to begin Tuesday, but Topham changed his mind and chose to plead guilty to the murder of Bruce Necaise. Judge Larry Bourgeois sentenced Topham to life for the murder charge and 20 years for each count of aggravated assault.
District Attorney Joel Smith said the investigation began on Dec. 3, 2013, when Hancock County Sheriff's deputies responded to a home on Deerwood Road around 5:15 p.m. after a report of a shooting.
That's where deputies found Necaise lying on the front porch of the home suffering from a gunshot wound to the leg. Witnesses at the scene told investigators Topham shot Necaise during an argument.
Smith said Topham was barricaded in the loft of a nearby barn where he was shouting obscenities and firing shots at deputies. Investigators said Topham was using the same 12-gauge shotgun he shot Necaise with.
Smith said deputies removed Necaise from the scene, and he was transported to USA Medical Center in Mobile, AL. He died hours later as a result of the gunshot.
"After a lengthy standoff, Topham was taken into custody by the Sheriff's Special Response Team after tear gas was employed into the barn. Topham later made statements to individuals confessing to the murder, and stated that he was drunk and frustrated with his roommate at the time of the shooting," said Assistant District Attorney Chris Daniel.
Smith said Topham apologized to Necaise's family during Tuesday's hearing.
"I am sorry to the family, and I wish I could do this over and not the same way," said Topham.
"Your actions have a ripple effect that affects this family. That was at your hand, you have no one to blame but yourself," said Bourgeois before the sentencing.
"This was a senseless crime driven by anger and alcohol. This is an important day for the Necaise family as they seek justice for the loss of a son and father," said Smith.