Defendant to Hancock Co. murder victim’s family: “I was smoking crack and drinking. I am sorry.”

Clifford Burke's family says it's a relief to finally feel justice has been served.
Published: Sep. 14, 2019 at 6:48 AM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - A New Orleans man will spend the rest of his life behind bars after admitting he shot and killed a man near Bayou Caddy in 2017.

Christopher Neeley May, 40, was sentenced Friday in Gulfport on one count of First Degree Murder.

On the morning of June 7, 2017, Hancock County deputies answering a 911 call found Clifford Burke, 68, in his pickup truck on Pleasure Street. Despite suffering from gunshots to his neck and abdomen, and blunt trauma injuries to his head, he had managed to flag down a passing motorist for help.

Before he died, he was able to describe the man who attacked him, and the car he was driving. It was a white Ford Crown Victoria with a strobe light in the grille, similar to a police car. Burke said the man had stopped him on the roadway prior to the shooting.

Mr. Burke would die later that day at Memorial Hospital.

Investigators immediately used that information to locate their suspect’s vehicle at a local casino.

“After conducting surveillance at the casino, investigators determined that the defendant matched the description given by Mr. Burke, and they detained him and his associates for questioning. As they continued their investigation, the gun used by the defendant was located hidden in the Crown Victoria,” said ADA Chris Daniel, who prosecuted the case.

During Friday’s plea, May admitted to shooting Burke. He said he had been kicked out of the casino for being drunk and stopped Burke because he wanted to go fishing. May said the two started arguing on the side of the road, and that’s when he shot him.

“I want to let the family know I am sorry,” May said just before his sentencing. “I was smoking crack and drinking. I am sorry.”

“This was an inexcusable crime driven by cocaine and alcohol,” District Attorney Joel Smith said. “This is an important day for Mr. Burke’s family as they seek justice for the loss of a beloved son and father. We appreciate the dedication and commitment of the deputies who made the arrest and gathered the evidence which led to May’s conviction.”

The victim’s brother, James Burke, spoke to the court on behalf of his family saying in the two years surrounding this event, his mother lost a husband and two sons.

“[N]o mother deserves to witness three deaths in such a short time, and especially the murder of one of her children. Her life will never be the same again, and she suffers daily because of what you did,” James Burke said. "Her heart is forever broken. You have been sentenced by this judge today, and you will receive the ultimate sentence by God Almighty someday.”

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