IUKA - A lifetime of violent crime landed a Tishomingo County man a life sentence in the state penitentiary.
Brian Scott Berryman, 57, of Iuka, was in Tishomingo County Circuit Court this week facing a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon, which normally carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. But Berryman's history of violent crime allowed prosecutors to classify him as a violent habitual offender.
"The habitual laws are in place to separate violent offenders such as Berryman from law-abiding citizens," said First Circuit District Attorney John Weddle. "Because of the way the law is written and this man's well-documented history, we were able to ask for a life sentence."
After the jury found Berryman guilty Wednesday, Circuit Court Judge Kelly Mims sentenced him to life without the possibility of parole or early release.
The weapons charge stemmed from a February 2017 incident where Berryman went to a neighbor's house in the Goat Island area and started shooting a rifle inside the house. Neither the neighbor nor his girlfriend were struck by the bullets.
Tishomingo County deputy sheriffs went to Berryman's County Road 344 house and he admitted he went to the neighbors house and fired a weapon inside. Officers seized a .22-caliber rifle and a .380 pistol, along with drugs that were sitting near the weapons. For that incident, he was initially charged with shooting into a dwelling, possession of firearm by convicted felon, possession of Oxycodone and possession of hydrocodone.
It was later learned that Berryman was also wanted by the Mississippi Department of Corrections for a parole violation. He was convicted in 1989 of homicide and armed robbery and sentenced to life. He was paroled on 2009 but had not reported to his parole officer since 2013. That parole was revoked, so he was returned to Mississippi Department of Corrections custody to serve out that life sentence.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Kyle Robbins and Ray O’Neal.
The trial started with jury qualification on Monday and was held in the Iuka Middle School to allow social distancing of jurors and court personnel. The Court worked with Circuit Clerk Josh McNatt and his staff to set up a functional courtroom in the auditorium of the school.