Court denies appeal for man on death row convicted of killing two MSU students, one from Natchez

Published 8:04 pm Thursday, June 30, 2022

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A man on death row convicted of killing two Mississippi State University students, one from Natchez, lost an appeal in the Mississippi Supreme Court.

In 1994, Willie Jerome “Fly” Manning received two death sentences for two capital murder charges.


Jon Steckler, 19, who was from Natchez and attending Mississippi State University in Starkville was killed, as was Tiffany Miller, 22, from Madison.

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Manning appealed a circuit court ruling denying his request to transfer DNA evidence in the trial to a different facility for testing.

The higher court denied that appeal Thursday.

For six years Manning had DNA evidence tested and expert fingerprint analysis performed because of an earlier ruling, justices wrote. However, the results were inconclusive. While maintaining his innocence claim, Manning wanted to do more testing.

Steckler was a MSU sophomore majoring in forest resources. He played high school football for Cathedral and went on mission trips with the Catholic Youth Organization. He served in the mission field in Mexico and was also an outdoorsman and hunter.

Miller was a third-year sophomore from Madison and was studying nursing.

Manning was arrested after he reportedly attempted to sell items that belonged to the victims, including a Cathedral class ring that Steckler wore.

Manning earlier stated that the items he attempted to sell had been stolen by someone else. Days before Manning’s scheduled execution in May 2013, the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation acknowledged flawed DNA evidence had been used to convict Manning amid a broader review of the FBI’s handling of scientific evidence in thousands of violent crimes in the 1980s and 1990s.

Manning asked for a retest of DNA evidence used in the case using technology that was not available at the time of his trial.

He has previously been exonerated of a second double murder conviction for the deaths of 90-year-old Emmoline Jimmerson and her 60-year-old daughter, Albertha Jordan.

Both were murdered during an attempted robbery at their apartment in Starkville weeks after Steckler and Miller were killed.

The Mississippi Supreme Court overturned this verdict and ordered a new trial after finding that the prosecutors withheld evidence showing that a key witness had lied. The charges against Manning for the Jimmerson and Jordan murders were later dropped.