A man who was high on drugs when he shot and killed a friend outside an Ocean Springs hotel is headed to prison for life.
Nicky Joe Johns, 38, of Columbia, Tennessee, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge of murder in the Sept. 4, 2017, shooting death of Christopher Rochelle, 37, also of Columbia.
Johns, Rochelle and another friend had driven to Mississippi from Tennessee and had been using drugs for days when the shooting happened outside the Travelodge hotel on U.S. 90, according to the district attorney’s office.
Video surveillance captured Johns shooting Rochelle in the back of the head while he was still in the driver’s seat as a woman ran away from the vehicle.
After the shooting, Johns dragged Rochelle’s body from the car and rummaged through his pants pockets before he got back in the vehicle and drove away.
U.S. Marshals arrested Johns following a vehicle pursuit days later in Lafayette, Louisiana. He had gotten out of his vehicle and was hiding in a trash can when authorities arrested him.
Judge Kathy King Jackson accepted Johns’ guilty plea Wednesday, fined him $1,500 and sentenced him to life in prison.
“This defendant took the life of his friend out of pure greed,” District Attorney Angel Myers said. “On Sept. 4, 2017, he demonstrated that he valued money more than human life. Because of his actions, this defendant will spend the rest of his life behind bars. This sentence should serve as a reminder that this office will remain steadfast in its pursuit to bring violent criminals to justice.”
Added Assistant District Attorney George Huffman: “Because of this senseless act of violence, a man lost his life and a family lost a loved one.
“This defendant murdered a man that he had known for years for the little bit of money in his pocket. I hope that the victim’s family can find some amount of peace given this defendant’s life sentence. I commend the quick and diligent work of the Ocean Springs Police Department and the US Marshals Task Force ensuring that justice was served.”