Detective says he's refreshed his memory on murder arrest tied to Byrd case

He had sworn Byrd pressured him to make a murder arrest

mbbaker@sunherald.comSeptember 19, 2013 

PASCAGOULA -- A Jackson County sheriff's detective on Thursday backed off his sworn testimony, given to a grand jury in July, that Sheriff Mike Byrd pressured him to make an arrest in a murder case.

The testimony of Lt. Ken McClenic came up during a hearing in the capital murder case of Jeffrey Allen, accused along with Donna Marie Freeman in March 2011 shooting death of Charles Mason.

Allen's defense attorney, André de Gruy, was questioning the credibility of McClenic as a witness in Allen's murder case.

When McClenic testified before the grand jury in July, he said he felt the sheriff pressured him to arrest a man for murder because the sheriff wanted to be able to say he had no unsolved murders during his campaign for re-election.

McClenic said Thursday he's since "refreshed" his memory on the incident and believes he arrested the man on the murder charge because he had confessed and had provided details about the crime that no one else had. He said he did feel pressure to make an arrest in the case, but he feels pressure to make an arrest in any case he's working.

He said the murder had occurred six years prior to his grand jury testimony.

District Attorney Tony Lawrence asked McClenic if he realized his testimony resulted in a felony charge against Byrd of intimidating an officer in the discharge of his duties.

"Did the sheriff force you to sign that (arrest) affidavit or not?" Lawrence said.

McClenic said he could have been mistaken in some of his grand jury testimony. He also said he had suffered from "stress and anxiety and sleepless nights" prior to testifying before the grand jury and may have gotten his testimony confused.

McClenic did note the sheriff had him reopen the murder investigation.

Byrd was indicted on Aug. 30 on 31 criminal charges, which included charges of extortion, perjury, subornation of perjury, embezzlement, fraud, second-degree hindering prosecution and witness tampering.

After hearing McClenic's testimony Thursday, Circuit Judge Robert Krebs ordered all grand jury testimony from July, along with any exhibits and McClenic's latest testimony, turned over to the state Attorney General's Office.

"This system has to exist on truth," Krebs said.

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