TUPELO • An Okolona man will spend the next 12 years in prison for the October 2017 shooting death of a Verona teen.
Brandon Rucker, 26, was originally charged with first degree murder for the broad daylight shooting of 17-year-old Lorenzo Wright Jr., On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Newly installed Circuit Court Judge John R. White sentenced Rucker on Feb. 6 to 20 years in prison, with eight years suspended, as well as five years of probation upon release. He was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, court costs of $2,431.50 and $500 restitution.
Following the plea, he was led from the courtroom in handcuffs and carried to the Lee County Jail to await transfer to the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
On Oct. 27, 2017, witnesses heard two men arguing around 2 p.m. outside a house just off Mattox Street in Verona. Following a single gunshot, the witnesses saw a white car driving away.
Wright was shot once in the abdomen. He was transported to the North Mississippi Medical Center and died several hours later.
Verona Police Chief J.B. Long said the investigation quickly pointed to Rucker, then 24. The investigation showed that Rucker, who lived in the Egypt community south of Okolona on County Road 177, had known Wright for around two years and the two had been seen together at the store earlier that day.
Long talked to Rucker’s grandmother and family members convinced Rucker to turn himself in at the Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Office the following day.
A Lee County grand jury indicted Rucker on the charge of first degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence for conviction. Through his attorney, Tony Farese of Ashland, the charge was reduced this week to manslaughter-heat of passion. That move dropped the possible sentence to 2-20 years in the state penitentiary.