Burnett attempts to take his own life after 60 year conviction
Published 9:30 am Tuesday, January 27, 2015
After receiving his sentence Friday, Averal Dan Burnett Jr., attempted suicide in the transport vehicle.
Friday Burnett was sentenced to 30 years each on two convictions of attempted capital murder for his part in hiring an individual to kill his wife and stepdaughter, according to previous coverage in the Item.
Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Shane Tucker said that during his transport from the Columbia courthouse, where he was sentenced, to a Mississippi Department of Corrections facility in Rankin County, he attempted to take his own life.
As the transport pulled up to the Rankin County facility at about 11 a.m. Friday, the transport officers exited the vehicle to check their weapons at the gate as per protocol, Tucker said. It was at that point that Burnett used a razor blade he had hidden to cut his own throat, Tucker said.
The transport officers and an MDOC employee found Burnett slumped over on the back seat of the vehicle, covered in blood. Tucker said when he saw Burnett he observed a visible cut to his neck and blood not only on Burnett, but on the seat as well.
When asked what he used to cut himself, Burnett said he used a razor blade. Tucker said the wound was severe, but Burnett never lost consciousness. MDOC medical staff tended to Burnett until an ambulance arrived to transport him to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
An investigation is underway to determine how he hid the razor. Tucker said as per the department’s regulations, Burnett was dressed in a new set of clothing before being transported, which is one way they ensure inmates are not hiding objects during transport. A strip search was also conducted prior to transport. Tucker speculates that Burnett hid the blade in his mouth between his gum and lip after taking it out of a disposable razor.
The razor Burnett used was later found hidden in his clothing at the emergency room, Tucker said.
Sheriff David Allison said the investigation is looking into any interactions Burnett may have had prior to being transported, including his attorney.
“We don’t know at this point where it came from,” Allison said.
According to the MDOC website, Burnett is currently being held in the Mississippi State Penitentiary Hospital, listing his arrival at 5:31 p.m. on Saturday.
Tucker said during transport Burnett appeared nervous and had trouble breathing. It is suspected that Burnett feared being put in jail, leading him to attempt suicide, Tucker said.