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Man gets life sentence for Christmas 2005 murder

A Gulf Coast man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for a Christmas 2005 murder.

Harrison County Circuit Court Judge Roger T. Clark sentenced Joel Scott Spires on Thursday after a jury couldn’t agree on the punishment. He had been convicted of capital murder on Wednesday.

Only a jury can impose the death penalty.

“Mr. Spires, the jury in effect has decided to spare your life,” the judge said.

Jurors deliberated nearly two hours Thursday but were unable to agree on death or life without parole.

Spires claimed he stabbed Rodney Saucier in self-defense while they smoked crack cocaine Christmas night 2005. Spires stabbed him 49 times and left him in woods near Pass Christian.

Spires left in Saucier’s car and then tried to sell the vehicle. He hitchhiked to Texas and was arrested on a warrant from the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department.

Saucier, 44, lived in Kiln and operated an airbrush shop in Slidell, La..

Prosecutors said Spires has six other felony convictions in three states, including aggravated assault on an officer.

“Enough is enough,” said Fant Walker, assistant district attorney. “A lot of people have a bad life and they move forward and make something of themselves . … (Spires) stands here today condemned by his own actions.”