Suspect Pleads Guilty For The 1998 Murder Of Robert Pope

"Thank you again to the sheriff and all of his people. We waited eight years for this," Thomas Pope says.

The Pope family hugged each other and cried outside of the Jackson County Courthouse trailers in Pascagoula.

Just moments before Walter Ray Payne Junior admitted he killed Robert Pope and was sentenced to life without parole.

Emotions ran even higher when R.L. Pope, Robert Pope's father, asked the judge and Payne why his son was murdered.

"It's hard to understand why somebody would kill somebody who would give them anything in the world they wanted," R.L. Pope says.

"He was executed and left in the ditch like a piece of garbage for $100. It just lets you know, like what Judge Krebs said, there's evil in the world," Thomas Pope adds.

In his confession, Walter Payne, said he wasn't alone in this evil deed. Wesley Charles McLeod is also accused of robbing Pope at gunpoint at the Lil Super in Moss Point, taking him to old Mobile Highway, and killing him.

Authorities don't know if McLeod will plead guilty or go to trial.

"I've lived long enough to see at least half of a closure on it. I hope to see the other half soon," R.L. Pope says.

For now, the family can go home knowing Walter Payne is paying for his crime.

"I used to tell people, they might run from the law, but they can't run from the Lord. Today is the day that we've proved they didn't run from the law and they sure didn't run from the Lord," Pope's widow Joann Fisher says.

"I'm glad they have closure," Sheriff Mike Byrd says.

"It'll never fill the void that me and my family have, especially the grandkids," Thomas Pope says. "We can leave out of here knowing that one killer is off the street and he'll never hurt another family again."

Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence is also happy with Tuesday's plea. He says it's the best part of his job.

"When I can give the families justice that they not only deserve and they seek. This family has sought for so long. It's very satisfying. It's one of the happiest days I have as District Attorney," Lawrence says.

Lawrence says he hope to have the entire case resolved by early March.