Man Sentenced To Life In Prison For Killing Jackson County Woman

Convicted murderer Joshua Brink has avoided the death penalty in the stabbing and strangulation death of an Ocean Springs woman. But he'll serve life in prison without parole for the crime.

A Jackson County circuit judge sentenced Brink Thursday because the jury was unable to decide on a sentence.

On Wednesday, the jury found Brink guilty of capital murder in the death of 25-year-old Rachel Kathleen Bellman on April 20th 2000. An autopsy showed that Bellman was sexually assaulted, strangled and stabbed.

Before the jury started deliberations, they heard from four witnesses including Brink's pastor who testified, "Joshua was convicted of this crime, but I can tell you he is no longer that person. I ask for mercy."

Jackson County District Attorney Keith Miller said he was hoping for the death penalty.

"In this situation, I think the victim's family is satisfied with life without parole; however, I'm not satisfied with life without parole," Miller said. "I think it should have been the death penalty. But again, the jury spoke and that's why we have the system. And so we'll live with that and go on."

Twenty-five-year-old Michael Balle is also charged with capital murder in Bellman's death. When Brink took the stand in his own defense Wednesday, he put the blame on Michael Balle, saying Balle killed Rachel Bellman. But Brink also admitted he did nothing to stop Balle. Balle's trial is scheduled for May.