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Capital murder suspect back in court to argue against death penalty

The man accused of ambushing and killing Biloxi police officer Robert McKeithen was back in court on Tuesday for a hearing on constitutional motions.
Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 5:26 PM CDT
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HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - The man accused of ambushing and killing Biloxi police officer Robert McKeithen was back in court on Tuesday for a hearing on constitutional motions.

Darian Atkinson walked into the courtroom with a slight smile on his face, making a few random noises and said, “What’s up?” to his defense team before sitting down before Judge Chris Schmidt.

Atkinson’s attorney made two motions to preclude the death penalty in the case arguing that Atkinson should be considered ineligible due to his age and mental illness.

She brought up a landmark Supreme Court decision that abolished the juvenile death penalty for those under 18.

Even though Atkinson was 19 at the time of the shooting, his attorney said should be extended to Atkinson’s case, saying, “For the reasons that are in the motion, we’re arguing that 18 to 21-year-olds should be categorically ineligible for the death penalty the same way 18 and under already is.”

She later went on to say, “I think that it is asinine that Darian Atkinson can’t go drink a beer, can’t go into a casino but he can be executed.”

She also argued that Atkinson suffers from some sort of mental illness, though couldn’t say what, because she said he hasn’t cooperated with the doctors.

While the judge denied both motions, he did allow the trial to be moved to Rankin County to start on Sept. 27.

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