By BILL GRAHAM
The Meridian Star
MERIDIAN, Miss. — A Meridian man accused of killing a longtime Newton County School Board member in 2019 was sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday, June 21.
Christopher Denson, 44, pleaded guilty to murder and other charges in the shooting death of six-term school board member and retired Covington Police adminstrator Almond Turner, according to a news release from Meridian District Attorney Kassie Coleman’s office.
Denson pleaded guilty to second degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
He was sentenced by Circuit Judge Charles Wright to serve 40 years without the possibility of parole as a habitual offender on the murder charge and 10 years on the possession of a firearm charge. The sentences will be served consecutively.
Denson was indicted on Oct. 6, 2021, for murdering his uncle, Turner, 69, on Nov. 23, 2019, in Meridian in southern Mississippi. The shooting occurred during a birthday party at an event hall at 5051 Hwy. 493.
Police said at the time that Denson left the party and went to his vehicle, walked back inside with an AK-47 rifle and fired five or six shots. The shots struck Turner in the head and chest, killing him, according to police.
Denson was arrested at an apartment on Mississippi Hwy. 39 North the day after the shooting.
The AJT Foundation, which was formed by surviving family members of Turner, said in a statement on social media, "After two and a half years this part is finally over for our family."
"Did we get justice? No. We would rather have him making us laugh and smile. It (is) still so painful.
"To all of our friends and family, we ask that you continue to pray. Thank you for your love and support. God bless."
Turner served as an assistant police chief with the Covington Police Department and was the city’s longest tenured employee, with 45 years of service, when he retired in 2016. He had served as assistant chief since 1997.
He was elected to the county school board in 1996 and was in his sixth term. He served as chairman in 2018.
The case was investigated by the Meridian Police Department.
News Editor Tom Spigolon of The Covington News contributed to this report.