Fifth man charged with link to Mississippi officer’s killing

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — A fifth person has been arrested on charges stemming from the slaying of a Mississippi police officer outside his police station.

Andre A. Sullivan was charged Thursday as an accessory after the fact and jailed in Harrison County.

Investigators say he and two other men — 20-year-old Dalentez Latavian Brice, and 21-year-old Joshua Michael Kovach — helped Darian Atkinson change clothes after Atkinson shot Biloxi police officer Robert McKeithen. Brice and Kovach face the same charge as the 18-year-old Sullivan.

Atkinson, 19, is charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of McKeithen on Sunday night in the parking lot of Biloxi’s police station. He was arrested Monday in Wiggins after a daylong manhunt.

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Darian Atkinson’s brother, Davian Atkinson, 21, is also charged with being an accessory after the fact. Investigators say he let his younger brother use his phone and drove him to Wiggins, 40 miles (65 kilometers) from Biloxi.

The shooting suspect initially declined to be represented by a public defender, but the Sun Herald reports he finally accepted one Friday.

Public defender Theressa Lyons told Harrison County Justice Court Judge Brandon Ladner that Atkinson’s mother said they would not be hiring a private attorney. Lyons also said an online attempt to raise money for a private lawyer had been shut down.

Ladner and Lyons had to assure Atkinson that the public defender’s office wasn’t working in league with police or prosecutors.

“Our office is separate and apart and we don’t have any affiliation with the police department or district attorney’s office in any way,” Lyons said.

Darian Atkinson again appeared in court Friday wearing a restraining vest meant to prevent suicide attempts. He told the judge he wanted to be removed from suicide watch at the jail. However, WLOX-TV reports that Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson said Atkinson is not on suicide watch and is instead held in an isolated area where he can be closely monitored.

The judge appointed lawyer Lisa Collums to represent Atkinson. Lyons said a preliminary hearing where prosecutors lay out the case against Atkinson in advance of grand jury proceedings could come in June.

Ladner on Friday revoked bail on earlier unrelated criminal charges for Sullivan and Brice, ordering them jailed without possibility of pretrial release. Bail is set at $500,000 for Davian Atkinson and Kovach, who each remain in the Harrison County jail.

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