State high court declines to hear appeal

Published 9:46 pm Monday, October 12, 2009

The Mississippi Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from Willie Prater, who was sentenced to life without parole in 2006 for his role in the beating death of a Starkville woman.

Prater was one of five people charged in the 2001 beating death of Juanita Miller. Prater was convicted in Oktibbeha County of capital murder.

The state Court of Appeals upheld the conviction in May. The Supreme Court this past week refused to hear the case.

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Prosecutors say Miller died after being beaten in her home. Starkville firefighters were responding to a fire report when they found her. Her husband was not home at the time.

Prosecutors say a fire was started to cover up the slaying and robbery.

The Appeals Court rejected Prater’s claims that lawmen coerced him into confessing to the crime.