May 4, 2010 4:27:00 PM
BRANDON -- The black ex-convict charged in the grisly murder of white supremacist Richard Barrett confessed he killed the man because Barrett asked him to perform a sexual act, investigators testified Tuesday.
At the arraignment in Rankin County Court, Undersheriff Bryan Bailey testified that McGee gave several statements to investigators about the April 22 death of Barrett, who had been stabbed 16 times, beaten and his body burned.
In one statement, Bailey testified that McGee told officers that he went to Barrett''s house to use the computer to check his Facebook account and Barrett made sexual advances toward him.
In another statement, Bailey said McGee went to the house to confront Barrett about some money owed him for yard work and that "Barrett dropped his pants and asked him to perform a sexual act." It was then, Bailey said, that McGee told investigators that he hit and stabbed Barrett.
District Attorney Michael Guest believes robbery was the motive in the slaying. But Mike Scott, McGee''s public defender, said his client was protecting himself.
Sheriff''s investigators and firefighters, responding to a 911 call, found Barrett''s body with guns piled on top of it in his burning home and pulled it outside, Bailey said. McGee told investigators he thought the guns would go off in the fire and it would appear to be a suicide, Bailey said.
When his body was found, Barrett was "wearing a pair of underwear, part of a T-shirt and a black belt wrapped around one of his (wrists,)" Bailey said.
McGee, 22, sat laughing and talking with Scott during part of the testimony. The charges against him have been upgraded to capital murder, Guest said.
In Mississippi, capital murder is defined as murder committed along with the commission of another crime; in this case, robbery, Guest said.
McGee was released from state prison in February after serving five years of a six-year sentence for simple assault on a police officer and grand larceny.
"I don''t think he was in commission of a robbery when this murder happened," Scott said after the hearing. "He was simply protecting himself."
County Judge Kent McDaniel ordered the case against McGee to be presented to the grand jury. The next grand jury meets in June. The judge said McGee would remain in the county jail without bond.
Bailey said authorities have recovered a black powder .44-caliber revolver and a brown leather wallet that McGee is accused of taking from Barrett''s home. They also said they retrieved knives, the possible murder weapons. A red gas can was discovered by firefighters and investigators at Barrett''s home. Later, authorities found shoes covered in soot and a gas can cap at the McGee residence, Bailey said.
Authorities are analyzing two computers confiscated from the house, Bailey said. Scott said the evidence could support McGee''s claims about checking his Facebook page.
Barrett, a New York City native and Vietnam War veteran, moved to Mississippi in 1966, just before he founded a group called the Nationalist Movement. He ran the group from an office in the small rural town of Learned, about 20 miles southwest of Jackson. He also ran a school for skinheads.
Barrett was known for traveling the country promoting segregationist views, but testimony showed he had a "relationship" with McGee and his family. Witnesses told authorities that Barrett was seen at their home, located a few houses down from his, the night he was killed, Bailey said.
McGee''s mother, Tina McGee, told investigators that Barrett had spent about an hour "socializing" with them.
Later, according to testimony, Vincent McGee went back to Barrett''s house. Investigators believe that''s when Barrett was killed.
Authorities say McGee conscripted a friend, Michael Dent, to help him set Barrett''s house on fire. Dent and his mother, Vickie Dent, are accused as accessories in the case. Investigators say Vincent McGee spent the night at the Dents'' home before he fled to Pearl. Alfred Lewis, identified as Tina McGee''s boyfriend, is accused of driving the suspect to Pearl. He''s also charged as an accessory.