Man sentenced to life in prison in killing of Mississippi sheriff’s lieutenant

Aug 1, 2023, 12:11 PM | Updated: Aug 18, 2023, 4:00 pm

sentenced to over 15 years for sexual abuse of a child...

Leonard Thomas Stewart, III, was sentenced to over 15 years in prison for abusive sexual contact of a child. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the killing of a Mississippi law enforcement officer.

Lt. Michael Boutte of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department was shot in the face and head on Feb. 1, 2021, while responding to a call about a suicide threat. Sheriff Ricky Adam said Boutte, 57, died shortly after being taken to a New Orleans hospital.

Circuit Judge Lisa Dodson sentenced Joseph Rohrbacker on Monday after he pleaded guilty to capital murder, aggravated assault and aggravated assault of a peace officer, news outlets reported.

Dodson sentenced Rohrbacker to 50 years for the assault charges, which he will serve at the same time as the life sentence for the capital murder conviction.

Rohrbacker told the judge that a relative had accused him of inappropriately touching her and he flew into a rage and intended to kill himself. Rohrbacker said that when law enforcement officers arrived, he heard voices saying he should let the officers kill him. Instead, he pointed his gun at them and fired.

Boutte’s widow and two children were in the courtroom and the family read statements about how his death has affected them. His daughter, Jessica Boutte, said her father will never see his grandchild graduate and she will never have her dad walk her down the aisle at her wedding.

“My dad deserved to grow old and be an old man and be taken care of,” she said. “He earned that right. And that all was robbed from him.”

Boutte was an Air Force veteran who deployed in Operation Desert Storm. He had worked in law enforcement for 20 years.

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Man sentenced to life in prison in killing of Mississippi sheriff’s lieutenant