JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - A Seminary man is behind bars and facing a murder charge and a $75,000 bond after Jones County's first homicide of 2017.
Matthew Lee Phillips, 25, is charged with one count of murder after an altercation led to a stabbing on Kevin Drive Friday night.
Joseph Stringer, 40, was pronounced dead at the scene, and Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge said when deputies arrived, Phillips had fled the scene.
"We immediately began gathering information with our team, our investigators responded to the scene, and we were able to determine that the suspect was Matthew Phillips, who had fled the scene," said Hodge. "After an extensive search, some 10, 11 hours later, D squad was able to take him into custody down in the Moselle area."
Hodge said alcohol was a factor in the altercation, and that Stringer and Phillips had a history of fighting and this time were arguing over a flashlight.
"They were arguing over a flashlight that Stringer had supposedly taken from Phillips," said Jones County Sheriff's Department Public Relations Director in a press release. "The witness had gone inside the residence when the argument began and said Stringer staggered in through the back door saying he had been stabbed."
"Well, there was a past, our investigation determined that they've had altercations before, and apparently, there was some alcohol involved...an unfortunately it went bad," said Hodge.
Phillips made his initial appearance before Jones County Judge, David Lyons, where his bond was set at $75,000.
During his perp-walk, Phillips claimed the whole thing was self-defense.
"It was self-defense, he had put me in the hospital once before," said Phillips. "Take a look at the bottom of my chin, that's where he smashed me once in a glass table."
Phillips said he was trying to leave.
"I didn't mean for anybody to die, I was just trying to get away, I live in a tent under a bridge, I was just trying to get, make it back over there," said Phillips. "I'm sorry a life was taken of course, but I was just trying to leave in peace."