A jury has been seated and the trial is underway of a Hattiesburg man accused of murder in a 2014 shooting.
V’Nell Miskell, 27, is standing trial for first-degree murder and conspiracy in the Sept. 11, 2014 shooting death of 20-year-old Johnnie Cooper.
He is also facing charges of auto burglary and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. V’Nell’s trial was re-set from Sept. 2016 after exculpatory evidence halted jury selection.
Cooper was found submerged in a drainage ditch at the Timberton Softball Complex on Helveston Road the morning of Sept. 11.
His brother, Vernell Miskell, 23, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact of murder on September 8, 2016. He was originally charged with murder and conspiracy, but pleaded to the lesser charge. He is already serving 20 years for an unrelated aggravated assault charge stemming from another shooting. According to Forrest-Perry County District Attorney Patricia Burchell, their office recommended a 10-year sentence with five to serve, running concurrently with the aggravated assault sentence he is serving, pending the cooperation of his testimony in his brother’s trial.
Pedro Alvarez was also charged with murder and conspiracy, he pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact of murder on September 8, 2016. He sentencing is pending the outcome of the V’Nell trial.
Two other suspects, Asia Craft and the Miskell brothers’ mother, Sandra Smith are both charged with conspiracy and accessory after the fact of murder. Craft and Smith are both set to stand trial Dec. 14, 2016.
The proceedings will continue Tuesday morning, and Vernell is set to take the stand to testify on behalf of the state.