Execution date requested for man convicted of killing Natchez student

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, March 26, 2013

NATCHEZ — The man on death row for the 1992 murder of Natchez native Jon Steckler and another Mississippi State student will soon face execution.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied Monday Willie Jerome Manning’s last appeal hopes, meaning the court will not review the case, according to a press release from Attorney General Jim Hood’s office.

As a result, Hood has requested the Mississippi Supreme Court set an execution date for Manning, which by law must be set on or before April 24, according to the press release.

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Manning, now 44, received two death sentences for the slayings of Steckler and Tiffany Miller, who were both Mississippi State University students at the time. Steckler is the son of Natchez resident Dale Steckler and the late Dr. David Steckler.

On Dec. 11, 1992, the bodies of Miller and Steckler were discovered in rural Oktibbeha County. Both students had been shot to death, and Miller’s car was missing. The vehicle was found the next morning.

Prosecutors said Manning was arrested after he attempted to sell certain items belonging to the victims.

His conviction was upheld by the Mississippi Supreme Court, which also denied Manning’s post-conviction petition. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turned Manning’s request for appeal down in July 2012. The court said Manning filed his post-conviction claim too late to be heard in state courts.

Steckler’s sister, Suzanne, said Manning’s death will not help her family.

“This is just my personal opinion, and I won’t speak for the rest of my family, but it doesn’t bring our brother back,” she said. “Because of that, we don’t wish that ill will on anyone else’s family. I don’t believe (Manning’s) death helps us in one way or another.”