Junior Burnett attempts suicide after sentencing

Junior Burnett attempts suicide after sentencing
Averal "Junior" Burnett

JACKSON, MS (WDAM) - A former Pine Belt lawman sentenced to 60 years in prison earlier Friday morning attempted to take his life at the Central Mississippi Regional Correctional Facility.

Averal "Junior" Burnett, 48, was transported to the facility after his sentencing when the incident occurred. "It occurred at the gate where Pearl River County officers were to turn over custody of Burnett," said Pearl River County Chief Deputy Shane Tucker.

"As the transport officers went to check their weapons, they returned to the vehicle, and when they got back, they noticed that Burnett was slumped over in the seat, and there was a significant amount of blood covering him," said Tucker.

"He (Burnett) told them he cut his throat," said Tucker.

MDOC Contacted medical personnel, he was transported to a Jackson area hospital, where MDOC took custody of Burnett.

"Every indication that we have, it was not life threatening, but you just never know," said Tucker.

The issue of him having any type of item and what he used is currently under investigation.

Burnett had extra security in the escort to the facility from the courthouse, due to the nature of his case, previous threats, and the attention the case has drawn.

The incident occurred around 11 a.m. just hours after Judge Prentiss Harrell sentenced him to 30 years for count 1, and 30 years for count 2, both to run consecutive.

Burnett was found guilty by a jury Dec. 17 in a Pearl River County Court. His sentencing was scheduled to be held in Marion County before Judge Prentiss Harrell.

Harrell was given the sentencing portion of the trial, due to the fact the jury could not return a life sentence in deliberation.

In less than an hour a Pearl River County jury convicted Burnett of two counts of attempted capital murder.

The two counts occurred while Burnett was housed in a Pearl River County Jail where he was being housed for multiple sexual battery charges out of Lamar County.

Burnett designed and committed an act that if accomplished, would constitute an offense of capital murder in a murder-for-hire plot to kill his "soon to be ex-wife" Natasha Burnett, and her daughter.

Burnett, while in jail, offered fellow inmate Russell Still a thing of value, bonded him out of jail, and gave money to commit the murders.

"We are certainly pleased with the sentence of 60 years," said 15th Circuit District Attorney Hal Kittrell.

"Now we will move forward with the sexual battery charges out of Lamar County," said Kittrell.

Burnett is expected to stand trial in Lamar County for multiple sexual battery charges in Lamar County on March 17.