MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The man who murdered an openly gay mayoral candidate will spend the rest of his life in prison after being found guilty by a jury on Thursday.
Lawrence Reed was found guilty of using his wallet chain to choke Marco McMillian, who was running for mayor in Clarksdale, Mississippi, two years ago.
In court, Reed claimed he acted in self-defense when McMillian made sexual advances after driving him to a dark and deserted road.
"He said the man pulled on his shirt, and he didn't know what he was going to do to him, but then he also testified that he blacked out," said District Attorney Brenda Mitchell.
McMillian's godfather, Carter Wommack, stood next to his mother, who was still too shaken up to talk about the crime and the verdict.
"He'll be missed by us for as long as we live," Wommack added.
In a recorded confession, Reed told investigators that he thought McMillian was still alive, so he pushed his face into standing water. That testimony was something the jury had to consider when deciding between murder and manslaughter as possible self defense.
"Mr. McMillian would not have been any type of threat to Mr. Reed, so the fact that you drag him into a body of water to make sure that he's dead, that you have, in fact, killed him was obviously beyond manslaughter and was murder," said Assistant District Attorney Jamie Banks.
Reed's family rushed out of the courtroom without stopping to talk. But, McMillian's loved ones are going home with a sense of closure.
"Marco's death was a loss. Not only to the family and friends, but also to the entire Clarksdale community," Wommack added.