AP NEWS

Man pleads guilty to student’s murder, sentenced to life

April 10, 2019

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) — A northeast Mississippi man has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a Mississippi State University student.

Jaylen Barker on Tuesday pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the Nov. 6, 2016 death of Joseph Tillman.

The 21-year-old Tillman was a senior marketing major from Schlater.

Assistant District Attorney Scott Rogillio tells local news outlets that Barker planned the robbery with friends and asked Tillman to give him change for $100. Rogillio says one person snatched Tillman’s wallet and ran, while Barker shot and killed Tillman.

The 22-year-old Barker had faced the death penalty in a trial scheduled for May. The trial had been moved to Union County because of pretrial publicity.

“Somebody stated under oath that they did it knowing they were going to have to spend at least the next 43 years in prison, if not the rest of their lives,” District Attorney Scott Colom said in a news conference. “That’s why we were willing to offer life.”

Colom said Barker will be eligible for early release in 2062.

Barker’s attorney, Sanford Knott, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Syboris Pippins remains charged with capital murder in the case. Brandon Sherrod is charged with accessory after the fact.

Collier Tillman, Joseph’s father, said he was thankful for the work of law enforcement and the district attorney’s office in pursuing the case.

“We lost a lot when we lost Joseph,” he said. “He was full of life and love and had a lot more to give. We and many others will always feel that loss, but can rest in the assurance that justice has been served.”