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Truck driver charged with capital murder

A 47-year-old truck driver was booked Friday afternoon with capital murder in the death of a woman whose body was found in the cab of his semi truck after he tried to set the rig afire Thursday evening.

Mark Anthony Rice, who gave officers a Palm Harbor, Fla. address, was arrested on multiple charges after being extensively interviewed by investigators. He then made an initial appearance in Justice Court, where he was ordered held without bond.

“The only thing you need to know is, I'm a dead man already,” Rice said as he was being placed in a sheriff's car following the court appearance. He was then taken to Pearl River County Jail.

Rice was arrested after officers and firefighters responded to a call off Kiln-Picayune Road Thursday evening. He locked himself in the cab of a semi truck at the scene and started a fire before being extracted by sheriff's investigators.

Deputies found the body of a woman in the truck, wrapped in a sheet. An autopsy was performed, but the victim's name, age, and cause of death are still being withheld.

A Hancock County deputy who had been trying to remove Rice from the truck remained hospitalized Friday. Officials said Sgt. Kyle Malley suffered smoke inhalation during the incident.

Sheriff's officials offered no explanation for Rice's comment as he was being transported from court. He stands charged with capital murder, arson causing injury to a police officer, third degree arson, and destroying physical evidence. An October preliminary hearing has been set.

Read more about this story in Saturday's Sun Herald.