Kiln man gets life for roommate's murder

Gary Thomas Tophham
Gary Thomas Tophham

BAY ST. LOUIS -- A man who fatally shot his roommate and fired several shots at deputies has been sentenced to life in prison.

Gary Thomas Topham, 57, of Kiln, was to stand trial this week in the killing of Bruce Necaise and the aggravated assaults on two Hancock County deputies.

He pleaded guilty to all charges Tuesday in Hancock County Circuit Court.

Circuit Judge Larry Bourgeois imposed the penalty for murder and gave Topham two 20-year terms for the assaults. He ordered the prison terms served concurrently.

Necaise, 52, was shot in the groin Dec. 3, 2013, at the residence the men shared on Deerwood Road.

Deputies responding to a report of a shooting that evening found Necaise wounded on the front porch and Topham barricaded in the loft of a barn. Deputies said Topham shouted and cursed at them as they tried to give first aid, and fired several shots at them with a 12-gauge shotgun.

Necaise died at a hospital hours later.

Prosecutors said a witness reported the men were arguing in the front yard when Topham threatened to get his gun. The witness told deputies Topham reappeared with a shotgun and shot Necaise.

A sheriff's SWAT-style team used tear gas to get Topham to come out of the barn.

Topham said he was drunk and frustrated with Necaise, and he apologized to Necaise's family in court, Assistant District Attorney Chris Daniel said.

Daniel said Bourgeois told Topham, "You have no one to blame but yourself."

District Attorney Joel Smith described the killing as "a senseless crime driven by anger and alcohol. This is an important day for the Necaise family as they seek justice for the loss of a son and father."

Smith said his office also appreciates the bravery of the deputies who arrested Topham and brought him to justice.