Jackson County

Jury finds McKenzie guilty of capital murder

A Jackson County jury deliberated for about 1 1/2 hours today before convicting Rodney Phillip McKenzie of capital murder in the Aug. 10, 2010, shooting death professional dog groomer and breeder Johnny M. Bullock, 67.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Krebs sentenced McKenzie to life without the possibility of parole.

The jury had several different charges to consider during deliberations. In addition to capital murder, the jury considered charges of murder by deliberate design, imperfect self-defense manslaughter and heat of passion manslaughter.

McKenzie and Daniel Lamont Hatten, 31, were charged with capital murder in the killing. The two are accused of killing Bullock during a prescription painkiller robbery gone bad.

Bullock was found slumped in the bloodied driver's seat of his van after it crashed on Martin Street shortly before 3 a.m. Bullock reportedly had left his home to go to the store to buy some coffee.

McKenzie took the stand in his own defense, saying he suffered from a liver disease and shot and killed Bullock to avoid being injured after Hatten and Bullock got into a struggle in the van.

McKenzie claimed Bullock solicited sex from him in exchange for all of prescription painkillers he had on him. McKenzie said he'd offered to buy $80 in pills.

However, McKenzie never told police in taped interviews that Bullock had solicited him for sex. Instead, a caretaker on Bullock's property had told police Bullock often traded pills for sex with young black men.

Assistant District Attorney Cherie Wade called the allegations of an alleged sexual solicitation a character assassination.

"Your common sense will guide you to the truth," District Attorney Tony Lawrence added.

The Sun Herald updates this story in Saturday's print and online editions.

Related stories from Biloxi Sun Herald