Former Jackson County deputy's trial moved, with plea negotiations explored

mbbaker@sunherald.comJune 24, 2014 

McClenic

PASCAGOULA -- The perjury trial of former Jackson County sheriff's Lt. Ken McClenic has been rescheduled to Sept. 23. when records indicate he will return to court for a status update or plea in the case.

"I'm just trying to get through discovery," McClenic's attorney, Calvin Taylor said Tuesday. "That will give us time to conduct negotiations but at this point in time no plea has been accepted or taken but that certainly is being explored."

A grand jury in January indicted McClenic, 51, on a felony charge that carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A deputy since 1985, McClenic was fired from the Sheriff's Office after he was indicted.

Special Assistant Attorney General Larry Baker is prosecuting the case.

McClenic is accused of perjuring himself before a grand jury hearing evidence against former Sheriff Mike Byrd, now a twice-convicted felon. McClenic's testimony resulted in Byrd being indicted on a felony charge of intimidating an officer in the discharge of his duties and tampering with a witness.

The charges accused Byrd of pressuring McClenic to make an arrest in a murder so Byrd could say he had no unsolved murders in his 2007 campaign for re-election.

McClenic told the grand jury Byrd ordered him to sign an affidavit for the arrest of Robert McKee on a charge of murder though McClenic told the grand jury he did not believe McKee committed the crime.

In September, during a hearing in unrelated case challenging McClenic's credibility as a witness, McClenic backed off his testimony, saying then he believed he had obtained the affidavit to arrest McKee because McKee had confessed and provided details no one else had about the crime.

After McClenic changed his testimony, Circuit Judge Robert Krebs ordered all of McClenic's grand jury testimony in July 2013, along with any exhibits and McClenic's later testimony in the unrelated case, be turned over to the Attorney General's Office to investigate.

A grand jury indicted him based on his grand jury testimony and conflicting testimony in the unrelated case.

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