Junior Burnett pleads guilty to sexual battery

Junior Burnett pleads guilty to sexual battery
Junior Burnett/Photo credit: WDAM
Photo credit: WDAM
Photo credit: WDAM

LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - A former Pine Belt lawman convicted of attempted capital murder pleaded guilty to sexual battery at trial Friday in Lamar County.

Averal "Junior" Burnett, 50, was indicted in August 2014 on a seven-count indictment, including four counts of fondling, two counts of sexual battery and attempted sexual battery of a female under the age of 18.

Burnett entered a guilty plea for sexual battery, which is count 5 of the seven-count indictment before Judge Anthony Mozingo.

The state moved forward to nullify counts 1,2,3,4, 6 and 7 of the indictment.

The one charge, of sexual battery carries 30 years, according to 15th District, District Attorney Hal Kittrell, and he was sentenced to the full 30 by Judge Mozingo.

He was set to begin trial on Jan. 24 in Rankin County after a change of venue was previously granted.

Burnett was convicted of two counts of attempted capital murder in December 2014, and sentenced to 60 years in prison. After that sentencing, Burnett attempted to commit suicide while being transported to a Mississippi Department of Corrections Facility.

With the suicide attempt, that prompted a physiological evaluation, and the 15th Circuit Court District Attorney's Office waited over a year for the results.

In June 2016, he was deemed mentally competent to stand trial for the sexual battery charges and a trial date was set.

Burnett served the majority of his 22 years in law enforcement with the Hattiesburg Police Department and officially retired from the Lamar County Sheriff's Department on May 16, 2014.

Over the years, Burnett has received several areas of training, including patrol, S.W.A.T., chemical weapons, firearms, undercover work, as well as K-9 training.