One guilty plea in Durr murder

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, November 5, 2002

The gunman in the June 18 shooting of a Brookhaven man pleadedguilty to capital murder Monday and now faces life in prisonwithout the possibility of parole.

Jerrard T. Cook, 17, of 2123 Madison Road, admitted to his role in the death of Marvin Durr earlier this year on South Washington Street. Other than answering some routine questions, Cook said nothing while pleading guilty during the brief hearing before Judge Keith Starrett on Monday.

“This is one of the most chilling stories that I have heard in my time as a judge…,” Starrett said after accepting the plea.”Frankly, it’s unbelievable that something like this could occur.”

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Starrett said sentencing would be scheduled for a later date. Under state law, the only sentence that may be given is life without the possibility of parole.

“He can’t, under our laws, ever be released,” said DistrictAttorney Danny Smith. “He must serve a full life sentence.”

As part of the plea agreement, the prosecution agreed not to seek the death penalty, and Cook agreed to testify truthfully against co-defendant Cearic A. Barnes, 18, of 830 Beauregard St.His trial is expected to held sometime in January, Smith said.

Smith said the plea agreement was offered to Cook after talking with Marvin Durr’s father, the Rev. Jerry Durr. The senior Durr did not want the prosecution to pursue the death penalty.

“That weighed heavily in our decision,” Smith said about Cook’s testimony and Durr’s feelings.

Durr family members were present for Monday’s court hearing. TheRev. Durr had no comment while leaving the courtroom.

During the hearing, Lincoln County Sheriff’s DepartmentInvestigator Lance Falvey testified about details of the department’s investigation after Marvin Durr’s car was found burned on South Washington Street around 6:35 a.m. on June 18.

Falvey said Cook, Barnes and a third person, a juvenile, had planned several store robberies before Durr’s car was flagged down and he was eventually shot. Two of the stores were closed, Falvey said, and one of the men was “uncomfortable” trying to rob the other store while people were inside.

After the unsuccessful robberies, Falvey said, Cook and Barnes agreed to flag down the next vehicle to go by them and take it to McComb to commit a robbery there. The next vehicle was a police cruiser, which was not stopped, Falvey said.

Marvin Durr was then flagged down on Williams Street, and he carried Cook and Barnes to South Washington Street, Falvey said.

After he let the two men out of his car, Durr turned around and was headed home when he was flagged down again by Cook, Falvey said. Barnes walked a short distance away and Cook shot Durr once in the head with a .380 pistol that had been stolen from Cook’s uncle’s home a week earlier, Falvey said.

Falvey said Cook and Barnes then got in the car and “made the block” around Rance Drive, with Cook sitting on Durr during the trip. After stopping back on South Washington Street, Barnes started a fire in the back seat of the vehicle, Falvey said.

Cook and his attorneys, Jim Lappan and Jason Tate, said Falvey’s testimony corresponded with Cook’s version of events of the night.

Smith expected Cook’s testimony would be a big help in the trial against Barnes.

“The state needs his testimony against Barnes,” Smith said.