MARKS — Trial began Monday for a man accused of killing Clarksdale mayoral candidate Marco McMillian in 2013.
Lawrence Reed faces murder charges for allegedly strangling McMillian in Quitman County in February 2013, then dumping his body near the Mississippi River levee in Coahoma County, dousing it with gasoline and setting it on fire.
A jury was selected Monday, following by opening statements. Testimony is scheduled to begin Tuesday.
Reed has been held without bond since his arrest. Prosecutors say phone records indicate McMillian and Reed knew each other.
Quitman County authorities tell WREG-TV that they called 400 jurors for the case, more than twice as many as normal for a murder trial, because so many people knew McMillian, Reed or investigators. Jury selection, which took up much of Monday, was closed to the public.
Prosecutors have subpoenaed more than 25 witnesses, while the defense has listed just one.
The case drew national attention after McMillian’s campaign said he was the first viable, openly gay candidate in Mississippi. McMillian’s sexuality was not an issue in his campaign, but because the 33-year-old aspiring politician was gay and black, some speculated that his death might have been a hate crime.
Relatives had raised concerns in 2013 that local investigators might have mishandled evidence. Reed, however, was eventually indicted in February 2014. McMillian’s mother and father declined comment to reporters Monday.
Prosecutors say phone records indicate McMillian and Reed knew each other before the aspiring politician’s nude, battered body was found Feb. 27. Officials have testified that Reed told investigators that McMillian invited him to a party before driving him on a back road, stopping his vehicle and watching pornography on his phone.
An autopsy found there were abrasions and lacerations on McMillian’s head, back and legs and multiple “areas of second and third degree burns” on his body. Some of the cuts were from a “sharp and or pointed object,” it said. The autopsy report said Reed admitted to killing McMillian, but didn’t give a possible motive.
McMillian’s body was found one day after Reed crashed McMillian’s SUV head-on into another vehicle.
BEFORE YOU GO…
… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.
If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.Click for more info