Hogan pleads guilty to murder

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 9, 2004

NATCHEZ &045;&045; Nathan M. Hogan pled guilty Monday morning to the murder of John Vasser before the jury was even seated.

The state accepted his plea on charges of murder eliminating the option for the death penalty, which would have been a possible sentence if a jury found Hogan guilty of capital murder.

Judge Forrest A. Johnson sentenced Hogan to life in prison. He will serve his term with the Mississippi Department of Corrections and be eligible to apply for parole when he is 65. Hogan is 20 now.

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District Attorney Ronnie Harper said though a plea is always a possibility he wasn’t really expecting one in this case.

&uot;His lawyer contacted me at about 8 a.m. and indicated that he wanted to do that,&uot; Harper said. &uot;We talked with some of the (Vasser) family about it and indicated that we would not pursue the death penalty.&uot;

Vasser, 39, was found dead in a pond in his family’s Morgantown Road yard on July 29, 2003. He had been shot three times the night before. Hogan had been thrown out of the house earlier in the night and was an acquaintance of Vasser’s.

The motive for the murder was reportedly robbery; Hogan allegedly took Vasser’s car and credit cards the night of the murder.

Harper said the Vasser family agreed to the plea.

&uot;They were really seeking some closure,&uot; Harper said. &uot;This is a good way to get that since there can be no appeals. In death penalty cases there is a pretty lengthy, drawn out appeal process.&uot;

Johnson said Hogan showed regret Monday morning we he stated his guilt.

&uot;He was rather emotional,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;He said he was sorry for what he’d done.&uot;

After the 2003 murder Hogan led authorities on a multi-week manhunt that ended with his Aug. 13, 2003 arrest in New Orleans, La.

In August of this year Hogan was caught trying to escape from his cell at the Adams County Jail.

Jurors called to serve Monday were released before jury selection began. With no other trials on the docket the jurors will not have to report back.