BAY ST. LOUIS — A murder suspect and convicted sex offender says he woke up after smoking marijuana with the Rev. Ed Everitt to find the Catholic priest’s head in his lap and being fondled. Less than half an hour later, he says, he fired the shots that ended the man’s life.
Waveland police investigator Eddie Peterson testified today at the probation hearing for Jeremy Manieri that the suspect’s recorded statement to Polk County, Fla., authorities gives a detailed account of what led up to Everitt’s death earlier this month.
Manieri told Florida investigators on July 12, the day after Everitt’s body was found at a Waveland beach house used as a retreat by the Hammond, La., priest, that Everitt picked him up July 10, they ate lunch at Silver Slipper Casino and then went to a convenience store and bought rolling papers before returning to the South Beach Boulevard home.
“They hung out, drank, smoked some marijuana,” Peterson said Manieri told Florida police.
Manieri said he passed out and woke up with Everitt’s head in his lap and that Everitt was fondling him, Peterson said.
Peterson went on to recount Manieri’s statement to Florida authorities, saying Manieri went outside for 15 minutes, smoked a cigarette, went back upstairs to Everitt’s bedroom and grabbed a weapon identified as a .380 semi-automatic. Manieri said in his statement that he attempted to shoot the priest several times in the living room, but “couldn’t work up the nerve,” Peterson said.
After a drink, Manieri shot Everitt twice, then grabbed the priest’s wallet, keys, cellphone and $2,500 that was in an envelope in the bedroom and left the scene in Everitt’s 2011 Chevy HHR station wagon, Peterson said Manieri told Florida investigators.
Manieri, who sat alone without counsel in the Hancock County courtroom, waived his right to question Peterson.
“More than likely, you committed the crime,” Circuit Judge John Gargiulo told Manieri.
Gargiulo sentenced him to the maximum of five years for committing a crime while on probation and for not reporting to his probation officer after his release from prison. He had served time for failing to re-register as a convicted sex offender. He has a prior conviction of unlawful touching of a child.
The Mississippi Crime Unit is still processing evidence and the murder investigation is ongoing, Peterson said.
Toxicology reports are pending, he said; however, an initial portable test done at the autopsy by state pathologist Paul McGarry did show that Everitt had THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical compound found in marijuana, in his system. Peterson said he wasn’t sure of the reliability of the portable test.
Manieri is represented by Bay St. Louis attorney Brian Alexander on the charges of murder and grand larceny.
He is being held on $2 million bond and will have a preliminary hearing on those charges Aug. 18.
Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker said today that the investigation is ongoing. “We’re trying to corroborate things he alleges in his statement,” Parker said.
Read more in Thursday's Sun Herald.