Appeal allowed in grisly double murder

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case of a Laurel man sentenced to life in prison for the murders of a Jones County couple.

James Frye escaped the death penalty when a jury couldn't agree on his punishment in 2005.

Frye, along with Billy Cooper, was convicted of murder, kidnapping, and carjacking in the 1999 deaths of Lottie Marshall and Willie Earl Hatten. The victims were shot to death, their bodies mutilated and buried, and their car set on fire in what prosecutors said was an illegal drug deal gone bad.

Cooper was also sentenced to life in prison following his 2002 conviction.

The court will hear Frye's appeal in February.