Caregiver convicted in killing of 75-year-old man

Caregiver convicted in killing of 75-year-old man
After deliberating for three hours, a jury found 40-year-old Gabriel Curtis guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Willis Cassidy Jr. (Source: Photo Harrison County Sheriff's Office)

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Harrison County man has been found guilty of killing the 75-year-old man he cared for and dumping the man’s body in Jackson County.

After deliberating for three hours, a jury found 40-year-old Gabriel Curtis guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Willis Cassidy Jr.

The investigation into Cassidy's death began April 20, 2017, when dispatchers at Harrison County Sheriff's Office received a call from Florida. The caller told authorities that Curtis admitted in a Facebook message that he killed his roommate in their Saucier home.

Deputies went to Cassidy’s home, located in the 17000 block of Pine Bark Lane, to do a welfare check. Once there, they say they found a violent crime scene. A dead dog was found in the bathroom with drag marks coming from the master bedroom. A blanket saturated in blood was also found in the master bedroom.

While deputies were searching the home, Curtis drove up in Cassidy’s vehicle. He told investigators that he had been living in Cassidy’s home, working as a paid caregiver.

Curtis told deputies he killed Cassidy with a Smith & Wesson .380 but said he did not mean to kill him. He also admitted to taking Cassidy’s body to Jackson County where he dumped it on an abandoned road near Franklin Creek and Highway 90.

On cross-examination, Curtis confessed that Cassidy had been in poor, physical condition and that he had beat the 75-year-old man multiple times with a gun. He also admitted to choking Cassidy with his hands. Medical testimony revealed that Cassidy died as a result of blunt force trauma and strangulation.

"After killing Mr. Cassidy, this defendant did not call 911 but instead tried to hide his crime by cleaning up the evidence and taking Mr. Cassidy's body to a desolate area," said Chief Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker, who prosecuted the cases with ADA Chris Carter.

Curtis was sentenced to life in prison, which is mandatory for a first-degree murder charger. He was also sentenced to ten years for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Both sentences will be served concurrently.

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