Man on death row for killing Natchez college student, one other seeks to clear his name

Published 4:17 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2023

The man on death row convicted of murdering two Mississippi State University students in 1994 – including a Natchez resident – says new evidence will clear his name in the killings.

Attorneys for Willie Jerome Manning filed a successive petition for post-conviction relief last week. He was convicted of killing Jon Steckler, a Natchez resident, and Tiffany Miller, both MSU students, during a robbery attempt. Manning was convicted and sentenced to death row in 1994.

“Manning has always maintained his innocence, and the state’s case against him was weak from the start – with no DNA or other physical evidence linking him to the murders,” wrote the Office of Capital Post-Conviction Counsel, the state agency that handles appeals for death row inmates. “Willie Manning is sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit.”

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Attorneys say new scientific evidence raises questions about the hair and firearms evidence used in the original trial. Moreover, the 92-page filing alleges several of the state’s key witnesses were coerced into falsely testifying against Manning.

Manning was also convicted in the 1993 murders of Alberta Jordan and Emmoline Jimmerson, but has since been cleared in those cases.