County man says guilty in killing in 2003|[2/24/05]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 24, 2005

A Warren County man accused of killing his neighbor in front of three children in 2003 this morning pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

The case against Terence Dontae Truitt, 22, 223 Demby Drive, was to have gone to trial Monday before Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick.

Instead, Truitt appeared this morning and pleaded guilty in the Oct. 27, 2003, shooting death of Darrell Dwayne Kemper, who was 27 and lived next door to Truitt at Forest Hill Apartments, 320 Fisher Ferry Road.

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Patrick set sentencing for March 10 and ordered a presentence investigation by the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The district attorney’s office made no recommendation for sentencing.

Patrick allowed Truitt to remain free on a $100,000 bond until the hearing.

The maximum penalty for manslaughter is 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Truitt was indicted in May 2004 for manslaughter and murder. The prosecution agreed to dismiss the murder indictment.

Investigators said Truitt went into apartment 233, fired two shots, left the apartment, returned and fired two more shots.

Three children, ages 18 months to 9 years, were in Kemper’s apartment when Kemper was shot, authorities said. Kemper was believed to have shared the apartment with their mother.

In court this morning, Assistant District Attorney John Bullard said Kemper was shot twice. One shot, to one of his legs, wounded him and the other, to his back, killed him, Bullard said. At least one witness, who was originally charged the day after the shooting as an accessory after the fact but had that charge against him dropped, was expected to testify during the trial, Bullard added.

Reports shortly after the shooting indicated Truitt returned to his apartment on the day of the shooting and found it had been burglarized, but a sheriff’s department report on the burglary indicated nothing was missing, Bullard said.

Truitt “became enraged and determined that Darrell Kemper” had burglarized Truitt’s apartment, Bullard said.

Truitt then took a gun, confronted Kemper and then shot him, Bullard said.

Truitt admitted to shooting Kemper, in the words of the law against manslaughter, “in the heat of passion.”

Truitt left the complex, which is just south of the city limits, after the shooting, investigators have said. The next day police impounded his car, which they found in a parking lot off Washington Street.

Truitt surrendered to Warren County authorities at Jackson International Airport on Nov. 6, after debarking a flight from Houston, Texas.

Truitt’s attorney, Sam Wilkins of Brandon, negotiated his surrender.