Harrison County

Two Coast men have been committing crimes since they were teens. Their sprees are over.

Two men were sentenced to life in prison without parole after a jury convicted them of capital murder, armed robbery and aggravated assault in the shooting death of 54-year-old Mitchell Weathersby and the injury of two others.

At the end of a five-day trial, the District Attorney’s Office secured convictions against Robert Hart, 26, and J’Var Vontou Pope, 27. Both are classified as habitual offenders.

Hart’s criminal record dates to 2011, the Harrison County jail docket shows, while Pope’s goes back to 2010.

Hart was in fact wearing a GPS ankle monitor at the time of the shooting. The monitor placed him near the scene of the shooting.

Testimony showed three men were playing dominoes that night in North Gulfport when Pope and Hart approached and demanded money.

Hart took the money, then Pope shot all three men, a news release from the District Attorney’s Office said. Witnesses earlier in the day heard Pope and Hart planning the robbery, the news release said.

Weathersby was the only victim who died. State Medical Examiner Mark LeVaughn testified that Weathersby was shot in the back.

Pellets from the shotgun hit multiple organs, the news release said. The shotgun was recovered at the home of Pope’s grandmother.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker prosecuted the case, along with assistant district attorneys Alison Baker and Jason Josef.

Anita Lee is a Mississippi native who specializes in investigative, court and government reporting. She has covered South Mississippi’s biggest stories in her decades at the Sun Herald, including the Dixie Mafia, public corruption and Hurricane Katrina, a Pulitzer Prize-winning effort. Nothing upsets her more than government secrecy and seeing people suffer.
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