Murder trial of former reserve deputy accused of killing man in Mississippi church parking lot moved

Published 10:18 am Monday, January 22, 2024

The murder trial of a former reserve deputy accused of shooting and killing a man outside of a Mississippi church has been moved.

The Laurel Leader-Call reports that the trial of George Ryan Walters, 43, has been moved from Jones County to Harrison County. The trial, which was originally set for Jan. 29, is now scheduled to begin on June 10 in Gulfport. Special Judge Lamar Pickard granted the request.

Walters was reportedly working as an off-duty Jones County Sheriff’s Department deputy and was working on the security team for The Rock Church in Jones County when James Corey Donald, 45, of Ovett, was shot and killed in April.

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Walters was initially charged with second-degree murder after he claimed self-defense in the shooting. A grand jury upgraded the charges to first-degree murder and aggravated assault in the case after seeing security surveillance footage of the incident.

A Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agent testified in a hearing that Donald was seen on a church security video approaching a church door. The agent said the video shows Donald and Walters having a brief conversation outside a church doorway when Walters struck Donald in the face with his fist.

Donald then reportedly ran away from the doorway when he was reportedly shot in the back by Walters. The video then reportedly shows Walter kicking Donald in the head after Donald fell to the ground.

Walters is currently free on a $300,000 bond.