Suspect accused of killing Hancock County deputy pleads not guilty
HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - The man charged with capital murder in the death of Hancock County deputy Lt. Michael Boutte Sr. was back in court Tuesday for his arraignment.
Joseph Michael Rohrbacker, 30, stood in the Hancock County Circuit Courtroom and pleaded not guilty to shooting the 57-year-old deputy on Feb. 1, 2021.
Prosecutors say Boutte was responding to the suspect’s home on Caesar Necaise Road after allegations were made that Rohrbacker had molested younger family members. Before Boutte and another deputy arrived, Rohrbacker cut his dog’s throat, testified an agent with Mississippi Bureau of Investigations at a hearing earlier this year.
The MBI agent said Boutte was shot twice and died from a shotgun blast to his head while he was still in his car. Rohrbacker then allegedly fired shots at the other Hancock County deputy, as well.
Later, the agent said Rohrbacker admitted he was just randomly shooting at the deputies without intending to hit anyone because he was hoping to commit suicide by police.
After being arrested for capital murder in the death of Lt. Boutte, Rohrbacker was charged with eight additional charges, including: three counts of child molestation; three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor as a result of children being present when the dog’s throat was cut; one count of witness tampering; and, one count of aggravated cruelty to an animal.
Rohrbacker is being held in Harrison County Adult Detention Center without bond. A jury trial has been set for Aug. 15, 2022. If convicted of capital murder, Rohrbacker could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
Boutte was an eight-year law enforcement veteran and veteran of the United States Air Force.
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