Crime

Charges dropped in Ocean Springs samurai sword stabbing death

MARGARET BAKER/SUN HERALD 
 Johnny Romero sits in court Monday, Oct. 28, 2014 on second-degree murder charges. A grand jury has since cleared Romero of any criminal wrondoing in the killing of a neighbor.
MARGARET BAKER/SUN HERALD Johnny Romero sits in court Monday, Oct. 28, 2014 on second-degree murder charges. A grand jury has since cleared Romero of any criminal wrondoing in the killing of a neighbor.

JACKSON COUNTY -- A man accused of stabbing a neighbor to death with a samurai sword during an alcohol-fueled argument is no longer facing criminal charges in the case.

A Jackson County grand jury ruled there was insufficient evidence to indict Ocean Springs resident Johnny Emmitt Romero, then 18, on a charge of second-degree murder in the Oct. 24, 2014, killing of Shannon Christian Bowen. Bowen, 29, was an aspiring rapper known to music enthusiasts as "Lil Skill It" or the "Inevitable Mac."

According to the initial affidavit, Romero stabbed Bowen once in the chest.

The argument began over the use of a community lawn mower both men used at their homes on North 12th Street in Gulf Park Estates.

Ezell said the evidence indicated Romero at some point "went and got this sword and he came back and he stabbed the guy."

Bowen was not armed, Ezell said.

During his initial court appearance, Romero told the judge he lived with his mother and worked for a cellular service company. He had no arrest record.

Jackson County sheriff's investigators released little information about the stabbing when it occurred, but did say both men were under the influence of alcohol.

Sheriff Mike Ezell said Wednesday he "felt like we had a good case."

But Romero, he said, "claimed self defense."

"He was claiming he was afraid, that he was in fear," Ezell said.

The only weapon recovered by deputies at the scene was Romero's samurai sword.

The Sun Herald was unable to reach Romero's or Bowen's family for comment Wednesday.

Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence said Wednesday the case "is closed once a grand jury (makes a ruling) unless new evidence becomes available."

Ezell said of the ruling that there is "not a whole lot we can do about it but just not like it."

A native of Memphis, Bowen grew up in North Mississippi then moved to South Mississippi.

Friends said he enjoyed playing basketball and going fishing but his greatest love was his wife, Stacy, and his children.

When Bowen wasn't enjoying family time or working at his job at Wal-Mart, he focused on his music, all of which he wrote based on his own life experiences, including the death of his mother when he was 12 years old.

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