Trial date for Junior Burnett pending mental evaluation

Trial date for Junior Burnett pending mental evaluation
Junior Burnett. Source: WDAM

LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - A former Pine Belt lawman who attempted suicide after being sentenced for two counts of attempted capital murder will now be sent for a mental evaluation and treatment.

Averal "Junior" Burnett, 48, was transported to a correctional facility after his January 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.

Burnett was scheduled to appear in court March 17th for previous sexual assault charges in Lamar County. The order filed February 25th in Lamar County states the defendant, Burnett be given a mental evaluation for the purpose of determining whether or not he is mentally competent to stand trial or will become so within the foreseeable future, and if not, then whether progress toward that goal is being made.

The suicide attempt 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.

The two counts of attempted capital murder 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.

Lamar County will have another docket call May 28th, and an October 26th date has been set pending the outcome of the mental evaluation.