Pierce found guilty

By Mike McDaniel - bio | email | Twitter

PRENTISS, MS (WDAM) - Defense Attorney Bob Evans said the guilty verdict returned against his client, Willie Mack Pierce Jr., was disappointing.

A jury returned the conviction after about an hour of deliberation Thursday afternoon. Pierce was sentenced to life in prison. Evans said he does plan to file an appeal.

"To me a (it is a) double tragedy here," said Evans, "a very difficult case from a legal standpoint and also a person standpoint."

Pierce was on trial for the August 2007 murder of his brother-in-law - Silas Upton. Prosecutors said Pierce went to Upton's Jefferson Davis County home looking for his wife who had left him and moved in with her sister the week before.

After receiving a dear John letter, prosecutors said Pierce began to get angry, and then went to the home on Jack Loftin Road where his wife was staying, but the only person home was Silas Upton.

"There's no doubt in our mind ever that this was a murder;" said District Attorney Hal Kittrell, "we're just glad that the jury found it to be the same as we did."

Evans did not dispute the testimony and evidence showing Pierce shot Upton with a 12-guage shotgun in the chest. Instead, Evans said there was another motive for Pierce showing up to the Upton home.

"I certainly believe that Mackie's intension when he went to the Upton house was to kill himself in front of his wife," said Evans, "and in that way solve his problems the way he perceived them at that time."

Witnesses for the defense painted the picture of a good man who reached a breaking point, but prosecutors say just because Pierce may be a good man, doesn't mean a crime was not committed.

"It was a case of deliberate design, and we just went forward and proved that to the jury," says Kittrell, "and the jury accepted and we think rightfully so."

After the verdict, judge R.I. Prichard asked the defense if there was anything to be said before sentencing, but no plea to the court was made.