6 Former Mississippi Law Officers Sentenced in State Court for Torture of 2 Men

6 Former Mississippi Law Officers Sentenced in State Court for Torture of 2 Men
This combination of photos shows, from (top L), former Rankin County sheriff's deputies Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon, Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, Daniel Opdyke and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield appearing at the Rankin County Circuit Court in Brandon, Miss., on Aug. 14, 2023. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo)

BRANDON, Miss.—Already sentenced to many years in federal prison, six former Mississippi law enforcement officers who pleaded guilty to a long list of state and federal charges for torturing two men were sentenced Wednesday in state court.

The state sentences did not add time to the federal prison terms the defendants had already received.

The six former officers who attacked Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker in January 2023 were sentenced last month to federal prison terms ranging from about 10 to 40 years. U.S. District Judge Tom Lee called their actions “egregious and despicable” as he gave sentences near the top of the federal guidelines to five of the six men.

Rankin County Circuit Judge Steve Ratcliff on Wednesday gave the men yearslong state sentences that were shorter than the amount of time in federal prison they had already received, but longer than what state prosecutors had recommended. Time served for the state convictions will run concurrently, or at the same time, as the federal sentences, and the men will serve their time in federal penitentiaries.

Michelle Williams, a spokesperson for the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, said the sentences handed down Wednesday were consistent with the plea agreement reached with federal prosecutors.

The defendants include five former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies—Brett McAlpin, 53; Hunter Elward, 31; Christian Dedmon, 29; Jeffrey Middleton, 46; and Daniel Opdyke, 28—and a former police officer from the city of Richland, Joshua Hartfield, 32, who was off duty during the assault.

All six of the former officers pleaded guilty to state charges of conspiracy to hinder prosecution. They were sentenced on multiple counts ranging from five to 20 years. Mr. Elward admitted to aggravated assault, and was sentenced to 20 years alongside punishments for burglary and conspiracy.

In federal court, the deputies expressed remorse for their behavior and apologized to Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Parker. Several of their attorneys said their clients became ensnared in a culture of corruption that was encouraged by leaders in the sheriff’s office.

Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey revealed no details about his deputies’ actions when he announced they had been fired last June. After they pleaded guilty in August, Mr. Bailey said the officers had gone rogue and promised changes. Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Parker have called for his resignation and filed a $400 million civil lawsuit against the department.

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