The jury returned a guilty verdict on V’Nell Miskell after less than an hour of deliberation.
Miskell was found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2014 shooting death of 20-year-old Johnnie Cooper. Cooper was found submerged in a drainage ditch at the Timberton Softball Complex on Helveston Road in Hattiesburg the morning of Sept. 11.
Miskell was on trial for murder and conspiracy; however the conspiracy charge was withdrawn by the state during the proceedings.
Miskell’s brother, Vernell Miskell, 23, took the stand today to testify on behalf of the state. He was treated as a hostile witness on the stand.
After his testimony, he was transferred into the Mississippi Department of Corrections custody.
Miskell pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact of murder on Sept. 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 Sept. 8, 2016. His 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.
V’Nell will be sentenced Friday by Judge Jon Mark Weathers.