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Pearl River Co. jury convicts ex-police officer of trying to have wife, stepdaughter killed


POPLARVILLE, Mississippi — A Pearl River County jury has convicted a former law enforcement officer of trying to have his wife and stepdaughter killed.

The Hattiesburg American reports ( ) the jury found Averal Burnett guilty Wednesday on two counts of attempted capital murder in Poplarville.

Burnett is scheduled to be sentenced by 15th Circuit Court Judge Prentiss Harrell on Jan. 6. Burnett faces a maximum penalty of no less than 20 years on each count.

"This case proves that no one is above the law," District Attorney Hal Kittrell said. "Justice dictates that Burnett receive as much time to serve in prison as possible for such heinous crimes.

"My office will be pushing for a maximum sentence in this case."

Burnett, 47, was accused of giving money to a former cellmate at the Pearl River County Jail between July 13-15. Instead, the cellmate went to authorities and told of the plot.

Burnett spent the bulk of his 22 years in law enforcement with the Hattiesburg Police Department. He retired from the Lamar County Sheriff's Department after less than a year's service on May 16.

In May, Burnett was arrested by Mississippi Highway Patrol troopers, and because of his ties in Lamar County, he was jailed in Pearl River County.

Burnett was indicted in August by a Lamar County grand jury on four counts of fondling, two counts of sexual battery and a count of attempted sexual battery on a female under the age of 18.

The indictment said the acts occurred in April and May.

While incarcerated, Burnett was charged in July with two counts of attempted capital murder charge relating to the murder-for-hire scheme.

Information from: The Hattiesburg American,

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