Ex-owner of award-winning Mississippi restaurant gets no jail time after pleading guilty to killing
Published 5:20 am Thursday, September 9, 2021
The former co-owner of an award-winning Mississippi restaurant will avoid prison time after she pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the shooting death of a man outside a liquor store she also owns.
Greta Brown Bully, 52, of Ridgeland, entered the guilty plea Wednesday in Hinds County Circuit Court. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but two of those will be served on house arrest and the other eight are suspended. That means she will not spend any time in prison.
Bully was charged with first-degree murder, drive-by shooting and evidence tampering after Larry Lee, 65, was shot to death in April 2020 in the parking lot of a liquor store she owns in Jackson.
Bully is the daughter of a Hinds County constable. She is also former co-owner of Bully’s Soul Food Restaurant in Jackson, which received an America’s Classics Award from the James Beard Foundation in 2016. The foundation says the designation is for restaurants that have “timeless appeal” and “serve quality food that reflects the character of their communities.”
WAPT-TV reported that before Judge Forrest A. Johnson accepted Bully’s plea deal Wednesday, he heard testimony and watched police body camera video that showed Bully telling officers she shot Lee after he walked up on her and she told him several times to leave.
Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens said two handguns were used to shoot Lee while he sat outside a liquor store that Bully owned. A Jackson police detective testified that Lee appeared to be sitting on the ground next to the building when he was shot.
Bully told the judge she was sorry for Lee’s death, but she shot him “because I feared for my life and I had no alternative.”
Johnson is a retired circuit judge from Adams County. The Mississippi Supreme Court last year appointed him to oversee Bully’s case last year after all four Hinds County circuit judges recused themselves.
WLBT-TV reported that Bully’s defense attorney, Dennis Sweet, previously sought to have all charges dropped against her. He cited a state law that allows people to defend themselves if their homes or businesses are threatened. Jackson Police Detective Bruce Triplett had said the shooting appeared to be “not for lawful self-defense.”
In May, Johnson sealed court documents in Bully’s case and ordered those involved not to discuss the case in public. The court docket shows he unsealed the documents and lifted that prohibition Tuesday.