Man convicted in 2019 slaying of Biloxi officer sentenced

Suspect convicted in 2019 slaying of Biloxi Police officer Robert McKeithen

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - One of the men involved in the ambush and murder of a Biloxi police officer will spend the next seven years in prison for his part in the crime.

Dalentez Brice was sentenced to 15 years on Wednesday after being convicted last year of accessory after the fact in the shooting death of Officer Robert McKeithen.

Dalentez Brice was sentenced on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, for accessory after the fact in the murder of Biloxi Police Officer Robert McKeithen.
Dalentez Brice was sentenced on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, for accessory after the fact in the murder of Biloxi Police Officer Robert McKeithen. (Source: Harrison County Sheriff's Dept.)

Eight years of Brice’s sentence was suspended, leaving seven years to serve, including the time he has already spent in jail. After serving his sentence, Brice will have an additional five years of post-release supervision. Brice has been behind bars since he was arrested just days after the 2019 murder.

“The men and women of the Biloxi Police Department, the family there, are just pleased that one of the individuals involved in Officer McKeithen’s murder had his day in court and justice was served in this case,” said Biloxi Police Captain Brian Dykes. “We only hope it brings a small amount of closure to (McKeithen’s) friends and family.”

Police say McKeithen was ambushed by Darian Atkinson outside the Biloxi Public Safety Complex on May 6, 2019. A manhunt then ensued for Atkinson. In the days following his arrest, several suspects were arrested and charged with aiding him after the murder, including Brice.

Brice pleaded guilty in May 2020 to hindering prosecution by attempting to prevent law enforcement from discovering facts related to the prime suspect’s criminal activity.

All four suspects have been indicted in connection to the shooting death of Biloxi Officer Robert McKeithen. From left, Dalentez Brice, Wanya Atkinson, Joshua Kovach and Davian Atkinson.
All four suspects have been indicted in connection to the shooting death of Biloxi Officer Robert McKeithen. From left, Dalentez Brice, Wanya Atkinson, Joshua Kovach and Davian Atkinson. (Source: WLOX)

Darian Atkinson - who was 19 at the time of the murder - is accused of ambushing McKeithen in the parking lot of the Biloxi Safety Complex and shooting him multiple times. The murder suspect’s two older brothers Davian Atkinson and Wanya Atkinson, along with friends Joshua Kovach, Andre Sullivan and Dalentez Brice, all pleaded guilty to charges related to the murder, admitting to helping Darian Atkinson after McKeithen was killed.

[ READ MORE: A timeline of the moments following Officer McKeithen’s murder ]

Kovach, Brice and Wanya Atkinson all told the court that prior to arriving at Atkinson’s mother’s home in the early morning hours of May 6, 2019, admitting that they had all seen photos of the suspect released to the press and on social media and recognized him as Darian Atkinson. Kovach and Wanya Atkinson admitted that after arriving at the residence, they assisted Atkinson in changing clothes to conceal his identity as the suspect.

Brice, who did not actively participate in the changing of Atkinson’s clothes, admitted to lying to the police when interviewed, denying both that he knew Atkinson and that he had been with him after the murder.

According to attorney Keith Pisarich, Brice will be eligible for parole after he serves 25 percent of his sentence and with the stipulation that he testifies in the capital murder trial of Darian Atkinson.

Darian Atkinson’s trial is set to begin on May 17, 2021. Court documents filed in April 2020 show Atkinson’s legal team plans to use the “defense of insanity.”

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