Former Mississippi sheriff sentenced to house arrest

A former Jackson County Mississippi sheriff was sentenced to house arrest in federal court in Mobile Tuesday, March 11.

Mike Byrd told the judge that he “has committed his life to law enforcement,”  but after the sentence was handed down Byrd was told he can not  even possess a firearm.

Byrd had nothing to say to reporters as he left the Federal Courthouse in Mobile Tuesday morning.  The former Jackson County Mississippi sheriff, who served in law enforcement for 42 years, will not have to serve any time behind bars.  However, he will be spending the next 6 months primarily in his home.

“He can work. He can go to church. He can go to see a physician.  There are other things they will allow him to do, but it’s different.  He can’t just pick up a leave the county, the city or the state.   He can’t just go out at night,” defense lawyer Joe Sam Owens said.

The house arrest will be followed by 6 months probation.

Judge William Steele accepted the plea agreement Byrd received in December in exchange for his guilty plea to a federal witness tampering charge.

In a written agreement, Byrd admitted to trying to persuade a Jackson County sheriff’s deputy to erase dash cam video showing Byrd kicking a handcuffed

prisoner after a car chase in June 2012.

The judge said he received about 50 letters in Byrd’s support from the former sheriff’s family, friends  and colleagues.

“So, if you look at the case as a whole you would say he got 12 months.  That might not be as stiff as some people might think, but in the totality of the circumstances, which is what the judge looks at, and that he has no criminal history we thought it was a fair and just sentence,”  Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Bordenkircher said.

Byrd will be sentenced Thursday, March 13 in Pascagoula on a state charge of intimidating a witness.  He pleaded guilty there too.  The district attorney is asking for 1 1/2 years house arrest in that case.

Byrd will have to wear a monitoring device during his house arrests on the federal charge.  And, he will have to pay for all the expense associated with the electronic monitoring.  Byrd also received a three thousand dollar fine, and court cost.

Byrd will be allowed to go to work, and he told his lawyer Tuesday that he has a new job in construction.

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