Crime

She helped her lover run from cops, but now Biloxi woman is testifying in his murder trial

Rita Johnston
Rita Johnston

Rita Olivia Johnston said she was drugged up and scouting out a home to break into for her boyfriend when she came around the corner of the house and saw him shoot and kill a man long thought to be a stranger to the Biloxi couple.

But Johnston, indicted on a capital murder charge along with her boyfriend, Hubert Patrick Anderson, said the three of them were looking for a place to burglarize when the killing of Donta LaShawn Banks, 29, of Biloxi happened on March 26, 2016.

Johnston made those admissions and more when she pleaded guilty Monday to reduced charges of attempted burglary and accessory after the fact to capital murder in the killing

In exchange for her plea and testimony in Anderson's upcoming capital murder trial, the state is recommending she serve a total of 45 years in prison for the crimes.

Her sentencing has been deferred.

A night out

Johnston said she was dating Anderson and the two went out the night before the killing, hanging out at Biloxi casinos, where Anderson caught up with Banks, a man he had met a short time earlier.

The two men played craps at the casinos for a while before they left in a new minivan Banks had recently bought.

Johnston said she had never met Banks until that night at the casino.

After they left, she said, Anderson looked for a place to break into in Biloxi.

She was in a car with Banks when he attempted to have her perform oral sex on him, she said. She refused and got angry, but nothing came of it, even after she told Anderson what happened.

She said she fell asleep in the van off and on, and when she she woke up the last time, they were parked near a home. Her boyfriend told her to check whether anyone was there.

She said the home looked vacant so she was headed over to tell the men when she saw Anderson shoot and kill Banks, allegedly to steal money he had just won at a casino.

Police chase

Johnston later helped Anderson in his efforts to avoid arrest in the murder. She was with him when police started chasing them in Banks' stolen van.

The pair was taken into custody after Anderson crashed the van into a home on Lackland Drive off Popp's Ferry Road in Biloxi.

Initially, authorities arrested Johnston on a charge of trespassing at the crash scene. Anderson was taken into custody under a carport of a nearby Biloxi home, where he had run to hide from authorities.

After the killing, Banks' relatives described him as a family man who liked to spend time with his children.

At the time of his death, he was working at Beauvoir Manor Apartments in Biloxi.

If convicted of capital murder, Anderson is facing a sentence of life in prison without parole, or death.

Anderson remains jailed pending trial on a charge of capital murder.

Margaret Baker 228-896-0538, margar45


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