MARKS — A Mississippi deputy testified Tuesday that a man accused of killing Clarksdale mayoral candidate Marco McMillian confessed while hospitalized.
Lawrence Reed faces murder charges in McMillian’s 2013 death.
Reed doesn’t dispute that he killed McMillian, but claims he acted in self-defense after McMillian, who was gay, tried to rape him. Premeditation and motive are the crucial issues in the trial, and if a jury believes Reed, they might not convict him of murder.
Prosecutors say McMillian didn’t try to attack Reed.
“This version of the story does not match the physical evidence,” Quitman County District Attorney Brenda Mitchell said Monday of Reed’s defense. “This case is not a case of who done it but why he did it.”
McMillian’s body was found near the Mississippi River levee in Coahoma County, after being doused with gasoline and set on fire. Authorities say the killing happened in Quitman County.
The investigation began after Reed wrecked McMillian’s SUV, breaking ribs and a collar bone. Coahoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Wide testified Tuesday that while he was guarding Reed at a Memphis, Tennessee, hospital, news of the accident flashed on a television, prompting Reed to talk.
“I stopped him and I advised him I would have to read him his rights if I was going to talk to him,” said Wide. “He said, ‘OK,’ and I read him his rights.”
Wide testified that Reed told him he choked the mayoral candidate with his wallet chain. After that, Reed loaded McMillian’s body into McMillian’s black Chevy Tahoe and began to drive.
“As he was trying to figure out where to put the body … he thought he heard something like Mr. McMillian was waking up or coming back to life,” Wide said.
Wide said Reed recounted that he then stopped by some standing water and “got out of the vehicle and pulled McMillian out and put his head in the water to make sure he was dead. … At that time he put him back in the vehicle and he headed back toward Clarksdale.”
The killing came after McMillian and Reed were captured on video together in Marks at a convenience store. At some point, Reed claims, McMillian drove both to a dark road and made sexual advances. Reed told detectives he felt uncomfortable after he saw McMillian playing pornography on his cellphone and asking Reed about his sexual preference.
The state played a recording Monday from an interview with state Trooper Milton Williams Jr. where Reed admitted killing McMillian before Reed was taken to the hospital.
On the recording, Reed told the trooper where he left McMillian’s body, and said he killed McMillian because, as Williams on Monday recounted Reed saying, “the guy tried to rape me.”