More details are emerging about a Harrison County man charged with killing a Biloxi convenience store owner. On Friday, a capital murder charge is added to a long list of felony arrests for 27-year-old Jason Lee Keller. Police say they believe robbery was the motive in the death of 41-year- old Hat Nguyen on Thursday.
Police confirmed that Jason Lee Keller was out on bond for a violent crime at the time of Hat Nguyen's murder. Back in January, Keller was arrested and charged with the armed robbery of a bank Harrison County.
By Friday, flowers and sympathy cards had replaced crime tape and flashing blue lights. People left their condolences in front of Food Mart where Hat Nguyen had been found murdered inside the convenience store on Thursday morning. Biloxi police say they had a hunch that Nguyen's murder wasn't an isolated incident.
Lt. John Miller said, "A vehicle was stolen in the area and we also had a report of a gun that was stolen by the same person."
Thirteen hours after Nguyen's murder, officers spotted the stolen truck in Gulfport. After a short chase on Highway 49 and I-10, officers stopped Jason Lee Keller using spike sticks to blow the tires. Authorities say when Keller got out of the truck, he became confrontational, and an officer was forced to shoot. Biloxi police say Jason Lee Keller has been in trouble with the law before.
"He was on probation out of Harrison County for bank robbery," said Lt. Miller.
Harrison County charged Keller with armed robbery back in January for allegedly holding up the Hancock Bank on the corner of Highway 49 and Highway 53. Records show Keller was let out the next month on $50,000 bond.
Lt. Miller said, "You do see that quite often. Us, the police, arrest them and put them in jail and sometimes they find ways to get out. Bonds may not be appropriate. Some times they are. Some times they're not. We'd like to see them stay there until trial but it doesn't always work that way."
Officials from the District Attorneys office say the armed robbery case is set to go before the grand jury soon. Now Keller faces more charges while Hat Nguyen's four children mourn the loss of their mother.
The official cause of death on Nguyen has not been released pending an autopsy. Now, the chase and capture of Jason Lee Keller shut down part of interstate ten near the Biloxi Ocean Springs line early this morning.
As of Friday night, Keller was in the hospital recovering from a gun shot wound and listed in stable condition. In addition to the murder charge, Biloxi police have also charged him with two counts of grand larceny in connection with the stolen truck and gun.
Jason Lee Keller's criminal record dates back nearly a decade and includes several felony burglary and grand larceny arrests and convictions that began piling up when he was only 19. One of those arrests came in 2000, when he was on probation. The district attorney's office says Keller was sentenced to nine years in prison and was paroled early.