Mississippi father admits to shooting, killing own son during argument

Published 8:58 pm Friday, March 11, 2022

A Mississippi man accused of shooting his son to death in 2018 has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Joel “Chad” Graves, 48, of Hattiesburg, admitted to causing the death of his son, Joel “Scott” Graves, 20, when the two argued at the elder Graves’ home on Aug. 16, 2018.

A grand jury indicted Chad Graves on a charge of second-degree murder, but that was reduced to manslaughter at Thursday’s plea hearing before Forrest County Circuit Court Judge Jon Mark Weathers, The Hattiesburg American reported. Weathers sentenced Graves to the maximum — 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The sentence included time served at the county jail, where Graves has been held since his arrest.

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Scott Graves’ mother, Jessica Jaramillo, who lives in Virginia, watched the hearing via Zoom.

“Scott loved his daddy. He always forgave him. I know Scott will have forgiven his daddy for shooting him,” Jaramillo said prior to the sentencing. “I know that Scott wants me to forgive Chad as one day I will forgive him so I could be with my boy.”

Graves also must pay a $200 fee and all court costs, Weathers said.

There was never a question of whether Chad Graves shot and killed his son. However, there was a question of whether he shot in self-defense and whether he was competent to stand trial because of post-traumatic stress related to his military service.

Hattiesburg Police Detective Erik Herrin testified at a preliminary hearing that when officers arrived at the scene, Chad Graves was standing outside with blood on his hands and head. He told police he and his son had been fighting and at some point, Scott Graves hit him on the head.

Herrin said looking inside the apartment he could see Scott Graves’ body on the floor and a shotgun propped up against a wall near the door to the bedroom.

Chad Graves told police he and his son struggled over a shotgun when it fired, striking Scott Graves in the throat, killing him. However Herrin said when he examined the scene he found pellets embedded in the baseboard and a few in the Sheetrock near the floor of the bar area where Scott Graves’ body was found.