Crime

Man sentenced in deadly 2016 Mardi Gras parade shooting

Family members of shooting victims comfort each other in Pass Christian after shootings occurred following the St. Paul Carnival Association Mardi Gras parade on Feb. 7, 2016. Two people died in the gunfire.
Family members of shooting victims comfort each other in Pass Christian after shootings occurred following the St. Paul Carnival Association Mardi Gras parade on Feb. 7, 2016. Two people died in the gunfire. amccoy@sunherald.com File

A 24-year-old Gulfport man who fired fatal shots at a Mardi Gras parade in Pass Christian has been sentenced to 40 years in prison on two counts of manslaughter.

Malcolm Dedeaux pleaded guilty Monday in Harrison County Circuit Court, District Attorney Joel Smith said in a news release Tuesday.

Bystanders Carlos Bates, 29, and Isaiah Majors III, 43, died in an exchange of gunfire minutes after the St. Paul Carnival Association’s annual parade on Feb. 7, 2016. Four others, including a shooter, were wounded after an event attended by an estimated crowd of 50,000 people.

Circuit Judge Christopher Schmidt sentenced Dedeaux to 20 years on both counts Monday and ordered each prison term to run consecutively.

“People have a right to feel safe in their community and now, because of your actions, tens of thousands of people are afraid to come to the Pass Christian Mardi Gras Parade,” the judge said.

One of the wounded was Charles Johnson, the man Malcolm Dedeaux and three armed friends confronted at an intersection just north of the parade route shortly after the parade ended. An exchange of gunfire sent hundreds of people in the area running for cover.

Dedeaux believed Johnson had fired a shot at his family’s home earlier that day, Chief Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker said.

As part of Dedeaux’s plea, he admitted he and a relative were driving around after the parade and saw Johnson’s vehicle parked near Davis Avenue. Dedeaux and his friends parked their cars near Davis Avenue and walked to the crowded intersection to confront Johnson.

Dedaux confessed that both parties pulled out guns and numerous shots were fired.

Johnson was shot three times — twice in a leg and once in an arm — and returned fire; a 23-year-old man was shot in the chest; and a 23-year-old woman and a 22-year-old man were each shot in a leg.

Jessie Lee Williams Jr., 24, pleaded guilty on two counts of manslaughter on Nov. 22. He received a 20-year prison term that must be served day-to-day. Williams was prosecuted as a habitual offender because of two prior felony convictions.

Williams’ father, for whom he was named, was killed by a booking sergeant at the Harrison County jail on March 4, 2006. Williams was 15 at the time. Then-Sgt. Ryan Teel is now serving a life prison sentence.

Jermaine Ratcliff, 28 and a relative of Williams, is held for sentencing on two counts of accessory after the fact to manslaughter. He pleaded guilty July 21.

Donald Dedeaux, 24 and related to Malcolm Dedeaux, is set for trial in early 2018. His indicted charges are two counts of second-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault.

Malcolm Dedeaux and Jessie Williams were on probation on state convictions at the time of the shootings.

Johnson was not charged in the shooting. He was on probation for a federal conviction on conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 15 kilos of cocaine in Diamondhead. His probation has been revoked. He’s serving 10 years in a federal prison.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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