Aug. 5-TUPELO - Two brothers have admitted their guilt in the 2017 shooting death of a Baldwyn car dealer at his home.
Ojerrin Burress, 23, and Quindaris Burress, 18, were arrested three years apart and were both originally charged with capital murder for the October 2017 killing of Henry Adams. The older brother pleaded guilty to manslaughter and armed robbery on Thursday and will spend the next 30 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. His younger brother pleaded guilty to second degree murder in May and awaits sentencing.
Ojerrin Burress was scheduled to go to trial on Monday, Aug. 8, on the capital murder charge. The state was not seeking the death penalty. Late Thursday, he changed his mind and reached out to prosecutors about a possible plea.
If the case had gone to trial, his younger brother would have been one of the first witnesses to take the stand.
"As you get closer to a court date, the defense can get anxious and start to worry," District Attorney John Weddle said. "His attorneys were in court this week preparing for trial, and we were in court. It turned into a conversation about a possible agreement."
Adams' daughter, Lesley Adams Berry, has worked closely with his office as they prepared the cases and got ready to prosecute.
"I am happy with the outcome. It's the best outcome with what they had to work with when folks are not willing to talk," Adams said. "There will always be holes. I don't think we will ever know exactly what happened that night. That's something I will have to deal with, and that's tough."
She does have the consolation of sitting in the courtroom when both faced the judge and admitted they robbed and killed her father.
Ojerrin Burress stood before Senior Circuit Court Judge Paul Funderburk on Aug. 4 and pleaded guilty to the reduced charges of manslaughter and armed robbery. After accepting the plea, Funderburk sentenced the older brother to 20 years to be served day for day on the manslaughter charge. A 10-year sentence for the armed robbery will be served consecutively.
Quindaris Burress was just 13 when he was arrested on Nov. 3, 2017. He has celebrated five birthdays inside the Lee County Jail. In May, he pleaded guilty to second degree murder in exchange for giving truthful testimony against his brother. He will be sentenced at a later date.
Henry Adams Jr., 70, was robbed of $20, shot multiple times and left to bleed to death in his Baldwyn home on Oct. 22, 2017. He sold cars from his house on a heavily wooded and isolated stretch of South Second Street and was known to keep large amounts of cash.
"Either dad opened the door or they bum-rushed him," Berry said in a 2021 interview. "They went looking for money but only got $10-$20. And they shot and killed him anyway."
The trial of Quindaris Burress was initially set to begin in November 2018 but was postponed several times. There were issues scheduling a mental evaluation. Then the defense wanted a separate evaluation. The coronavirus pandemic caused further delays.
The trial was on the spring docket in Lee County Circuit Court.
When Ojerrin Burress was arrested in March, prosecutors began working to get the younger brother to plea and testify against the older brother. Since he was only 13 at the time of the crime, the maximum penalty for Quindaris Burress was life in prison for capital murder.