Natchez man pleads guilty, sentenced to 15 years for manslaughter

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 23, 2016

By Cain Madden

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Moments before jury selection was to begin in the Sixth District Circuit Court Tuesday a Natchez man pleaded guilty to a lessor charge in connection with a deadly 2014 shooting.

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Maurice Davis, 22, 165 Tubman Circle, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 15 years in state prison. Davis would be eligible for probation after serving five years.

The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 20 years, which is what the victim’s family requested.

Circuit Court Judge Forrest “Al” Johnson said Davis shot 20-year-old Terrence Thornburg on Feb. 23, 2014, after a dice game. After losing money in the dice game, Davis left and returned to the Thornburg residence to get his money back. Johnson said a large amount of alcohol was involved.

Natchez police reported, Davis shot Thornburg in the back of the head while inside the victim’s residence.

As Johnson delivered the verdict, the family of the victim erupted in cries and anger.

Kenyatta Thornburg, saying the victim, her older brother, was her protector, had asked the judge to give the maximum sentence.

Stanley N. Merritt, defense attorney, said Davis is a young man with only one prior run in with the law.

“We ask for the leniency of the court,” Merritt said.

Johnson told the family he considered many factors in determining the sentence. Johnson said no result from Tuesday’s court date would bring Thornburg back to life.

“It has been a tough case,” Johnson said. “The district attorney’s office was missing one of its key witnesses who was at the scene, but is no longer in Mississippi.”

Johnson said if Davis violates any laws during his prison time or while on probation, he would be subject to serving the entire 15 years in prison.

Johnson ordered Davis to not have any contact with the victim’s family or any state witnesses.

Davis will also pay court costs and $1,000 to the Crime Victim Compensation Fund.

Davis was arrested in connection with the killing on March 28, 2014.

“It is one of those crimes that is just senseless,” Johnson said. “It is senseless that a young man is deceased and is not coming back. It is senseless another young man is going to jail.”