A Noxubee County man will spend life in prison after a jury found him guilty Friday of killing his wife and shooting his stepson in Brooksville in 2017.
Marcus Gardner, 26, was sentenced to life in Mississippi Department of Corrections for the murder of Kelsey Pace, 21, on Aug. 1, 2017, according to District Attorney Scott Colom. Gardner faces an additional 20 years for aggravated assault in the shooting of her son.
The Dispatch has not identified the child due to his age at the time of the assault. However, Colom said the child, who is younger than 10, testified at the trial.
“I was concerned about the child having to testify and the trauma of that, but at the same time, it was a horrendous crime, one of the worst crimes you can imagine,” Colom told The Dispatch. “… The grandmother who had custody of the stepson, the child, she was telling me that they never could sleep safe because they felt like until he was in prison they could never be safe. I was excited to get them the justice and closure and the safety that I knew they needed. But also … there was a concern of the long-term effects of the trauma the child was going through again.”
Deputies with Noxubee County Sheriff’s Office arrested Gardner shortly after the murder, which occurred at a Cockrell Quarters Road home in Brooksville, according to previous reporting by The Dispatch.
Throughout the four-day trial, jurors also heard from neighbors who testified about Gardner’s behavior before and after the shooting. Assistant District Attorneys Ben Rush and Collen Hudson, who prosecuted the case, also presented evidence that Gardner had dragged Pace’s body to the woods behind their residence, leaving a blood trail, as well as his own DNA on Pace’s legs and ankles, Colom said.
“I’m glad that the jury was able to see the evidence and understand what was at stake and uphold the law and find him guilty for a very heinous crime,” Colom said.
Gardner’s attorney, William Starks of Columbus, did not respond to calls from The Dispatch.