Murder suspect appears in court

Published 12:01 am Saturday, April 16, 2011

NATCHEZ — A Natchez man accused of fatally shooting a man on Rickman Street Tuesday received no bond at his arraignment in municipal court Friday.

Judge Jim Blough asked suspect Christopher J. Mackel, 31, if he understood he was being charged with murder.

“Yes, sir,” Mackel responded.

Email newsletter signup

Blough then advised Mackel that, if convicted, the felony charge could result a sentence of life in prison at the state penitentiary in Parchman.

Mackel took several moments to sign an arraignment document because his right hand and part of his arm were suspended in a cast and covered in a bandage.

Natchez Police Chief Mike Mullins said Mackel reportedly received the injury when he hit the victim in the street.

Mullins could not give more details about the physical fight in order to avoid obstructing court proceedings, he said.

Mackel confirmed that he lived at 1231 Daisy St. with his mother and stepfather.

Blough asked Mackel if he had ever been convicted of a felony, to which Mackel paused and said, “No, I don’t think so.”

Blough then asked Mackel if he was convicted of a felony in California, to which Mackel replied yes.

Mackel said he moved to Mississippi 10 years ago, which was about the same time that he completed parole.

Blough questioned Mackel about his income.

Mackel said he worked for his uncle’s painting business without a set rate and that he received work an average of two weeks a month.

Blough then appointed Pam Ferrington as Mackel’s attorney.

Blough set a bond hearing for Mackel at 11 a.m. Monday and a preliminary hearing for 1 p.m. May 17.

The alleged murder victim, Tony J. Hughes, 22, 42 S. Concord Ave., was shot twice in the chest Tuesday afternoon near Fraser Street an area off D’Evereux Drive.

He died at Natchez Regional Medical Center 15 minutes after Natchez police arrived, Mullins said.

Witnesses on the scene reportedly helped police identify Mackel as the suspect in the crime.

Based on descriptions from neighbors who said they heard gunshots and looked outside, police located Mackel in his van in the area within an hour of the shooting, Mullins said.

A .25-caliber semi-automatic pistol was found under the front seat of the suspect’s van, Mullins said.