Friday, February 10, 2012

Eudora, MS: Boyfriend pleads guilty to murder in death of missing DeSoto County woman

The boyfriend of Sherri Smith, the DeSoto County woman whose body was found recently in a remote wooded area off Miss. 301, has confessed to killing her and been sentenced to life in prison.

Michael Dean Owens, 47, of Eudora, Miss., pleaded guilty to her murder today, DeSoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco said at an afternoon press conference.

Rasco said the case went quickly before DeSoto County Circuit Court Judge Gerald Chatham after Owens waived his right to have the case presented to the grand jury.

“He pleaded guilty and was sentenced, all in one day,” Rasco said.

This is Owens’ second conviction for murder. In 1994, he was convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of a man in Marion County, Texas.

In Smith’s murder, Rasco said drugs and alcohol fueled an ongoing argument the couple were involved in throughout the Memorial Day weekend last year.

He said the argument escalated when the two left the Handshake Lounge in Eudora.

“They were arguing in their vehicle and then stopped and got out,” Rasco said. “He admitted that in the heat of the moment, he picked up a stick and hit her in the head.”

He then left her body in the wooded area off Pratt Road, about two miles south of the bar.

Smith’s family reported her missing to the sheriff’s department on Sept. 10.

Five days later, authorities arrested Owens for contempt of court on a DUI charge in Horn Lake. While in custody, authorities also charged him with fraudulent use of a food stamp card.

They said Owens had been using his girlfriend’s EBT card after he had killed her and dumped her body in the woods.

He did not confess to killing her until after authorities found her body Jan. 31.

Owens remained in the DeSoto County Jail Friday but will soon be transferred to a state prison.

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