Accused killer of Lt. Boutte meek, confused at first court appearance

Joseph Rohrbacker is charged with capital murder in the Feb. 1 shooting death of Lt. Boutee. Thursday, he made his first court appearance.
Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 6:40 PM CDT
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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - On Thursday, 30-year-old Joseph Michael Rohrbacker, the suspect accused of killing Lt. Michael Boutte, was escorted into the Hancock County Courthouse, looking meek. Clicks of cameras signaled his courtroom entrance, where he also seemed confused at some of the instructions posed by Judge Trent Favre.

In fact, on several occasions Rohrbacker needed help from his court-appointed attorney to understand. Rohrbacker was charged with capital murder in the Feb. 1 shooting death of Lt. Boutte.

Defense attorney Phillip Whitman told the judge that Rohrbacker suffers from mental health conditions and asked that his client be provided with prescription medications while in jail. All of it, was under the close eye of Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam.

“He was one of our people, one of our deputies,” said Adam. “You know, to show support for everybody in our organization, that’s why I’m here.”

And he said the department is still hurting.

“Everybody’s in recovery mode,” said Adam. “We’re making progress every day. So, we’re just moving forward.”

Adam said this initial hearing is providing some relief.

“Absolutely. You know. It’s the first step and we’ll just proceed from here,” said Adam.

Adam also said it helps that other agencies have pitched in.

“You know, everybody stepped up from LSP over in Louisiana to MBI,” said Adam. “And the Harrison County Sheriff was gracious enough to hold him.”

And Adam said he plans to be present at every court appearance.

“Good Lord willing, I will.”

Rohrbacker’s preliminary hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. on March 25, 2021.

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