There is an update to the case against the man accused in the brutal slaying of Marco McMillian, the charismatic and successful 34-year-old fundraising executive who was running for mayor of Clarksdale, Mississippi. McMillian was gay.
So far, a grand jury has not returned an indictment for first degree murder against the suspect Lawrence Reed. A new grand jury was ordered to hear the case on January 31, reports the Clarksdale Press Register.
Circuit Court Judge Charles Webster told the Press Register [that] he has entered an order for a new grand jury for reasons that have to be kept off the record. However, those reasons have nothing to do with the Reed case. ... Reed could still be indicted for capital murder when his case goes before the grand jury.
Marco McMillian was born in Clarksdale and most recently served as International Executive Director of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. Previously he was a development executive at Alabama A&M and Jacskon State. Clarksdale announced his intention to run for mayor only several weeks before his tragic death. McMillian was considered the early favorite—and if elected would have made history as the first openly gay man elected to public office in Mississippi.
McMillian's nude and battered body was found on February 27 near a Mississippi River levee. Murder charges were filed against 22-year-old Lawrence Reed on February 28. Reed fled to Memphis and was extradited to Mississippi in mid-March, according to the court.
Police investigators and several of the suspects' friends have said the suspect is claiming a disgusting "gay panic" defense. More recently: Friends of the suspect now say that Reed claims McMillian tried to "rape" him.
McMillian's family initially insisted that his sexuality was a not factor in his death. The family later claimed that McMillian was beaten, tortured and burned. The Coahama County coroner has previously disputed the family's claims, notes the Clarion-Ledger, the New York Times and the AP. "Coahoma County Coroner Scotty Meredith has said that McMillian was not dragged by a car, he was dragged out of a vehicle by someone and his body left near a Mississippi River levee. He has said McMillian's body had a couple of small burns that happened after his death."
Reed's trial was moved to neighboring Quitman County in October 2013. Quitman County has similar demographics to Clarksdale's Coahama County. Both are largely rural and poor with majority Black populations.
Hundreds of people attended Marco McMillian's funeral in March 2013. In the age-old tradition of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the Black church ... not one person mentioned that McMillian was gay or that he had already made history in Mississippi politics.
Jarvis Deberry at the New Orleans Times-Picayune asked readers, "Does the Black Community Care Less When Its Gay Members are Killed?" in early March. The article picked up on my reporting at EBONY on the Marco McMillian, Robert Champion and James C. Anderson murders.
McMillian Murder Trial Moved to Neighboring County
Autopsy Findings Still Pending in McMillian Murder
FBI to Monitor McMillian Investigation
Does the Black Community Care When Gay are Killed?
"Gay Panic" Defense in Slaying of Mayoral Candidate
Charges Filed in Murder of Miss. Mayoral Candidate
Miss. Town "Stunned" After Murder of Candidate
Homicide in Death of Gay MS Mayoral Candidate?
Suspect Claims Marco McMillian Tried to "Rape" Him
McMillian Murder Suspect Extradited to Mississippi