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Murder for hire trial underway for retired police officer

The trial for a retired Lamar County police officer who is accused of paying someone to murder two people is underway in the Pearl River County Circuit Court in Poplarville.

Averald D. Burnett, 47, of Hattiesburg, has been held by the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department since June of this year for an alleged forcible rape that took place in Lamar County.

Sometime after Burnett’s transfer to Pearl River County’s facility, a complainant who was a former inmate at the Pearl River County jail came forward and provided investigators with information concerning a plot to kill two people in Lamar County, said Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Shane Tucker in previous coverage.

Tucker said in the previous story that Burnett allegedly planned to hire someone to murder the rape victim and a key witness, and the information gathered from the complainant could not have come from any other source.

Upon further investigation from law enforcement officials and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, it was revealed that Burnett had made a payment to have the murders carried out, said Tucker.

The trial for the murder by hire charge is taking place in Poplarville, but the trial for the rape charge Burnett faces will be held in Lamar County where the incident allegedly occurred.