2016 Cotton District murder suspect pleads guilty

COLUMBUS/STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- A Columbus man pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in a Starkville shooting.

Jaylen Barker was sentenced to life in prison.

He was originally indicted for Capital Murder in the shooting death of Joseph Tillman on November 6, 2016.

Prosecutors said Barker and another defendant in the case came up with a plan to rob Tillman.

The MSU student eventually confronted Barker about the theft in the Cotton District and that’s when he was shot.

District Attorney Scott Colom said he hoped this sentence sends a message to criminals.

Prosecutors were prepared to go to trial but were open to a plea deal.

“That’s the reason we were willing to offer the life because he was giving up most of his appeal rights. He was, I think the judge even pointed this out, at least he had the sense to avoid having the family of Joseph Tillman and his own family to sit through a trial,” said District Attorney Scott Colom.

Tillman’s father said he feels justice has been served.

“We lost a lot when we lost Joseph. He was full of life and love and had a lot more to give. We and many others will always feel that loss but can rest in the assurance that justice has been served,” said Collier Tillman.

Barker is not eligible for a possible release until he’s 65.

Syboris Pippins was charged with Capital Murder and Brandon Sherrod was charged with Accessory After the fact of Capital Murder.

Their cases have not gone to trial.

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