Irving Lee

Murder suspect Irving Lee talks to the judge as public defender Patrick Pacific listens. (Photo by Mark Thornton)


A New Orleans man who claims to have risen from the dead was in Jones County Circuit Court after being accused of killing a Laurel man on Easter four years ago.

Irving Lee, 35, is charged with second-degree murder in the 2015 shooting death of William Cooley in the 1800 block of Lindsey Avenue, just off North 1st Avenue.

Laurel police were searching for him when they learned that he had been involved in a serious automobile accident in September 2015.

“I died on the interstate, and a few hours later, I died again, then I came back again,” Lee told Judge Dal Williamson at a recent motion hearing in court. “I was in a coma for nine months.”

Lee’s lawyers, public defenders Patrick Pacific and Cruz Grey, filed a motion asking for a mental evaluation for their client.

“His thoughts are disorganized and he’s confused, due to his medical history,” Pacific said. “It makes it impossible to assist in his defense. I don’t feel comfortable pleading or going to trial.”

Pacific said he wants to get Lee’s medical records and a mental evaluation for him before moving forward.

Williamson asked the defendant some questions to find out how coherent he seemed.

Lee said something about “going through a sickle-cell case” and how “my friend died” and that his “baby momma called and said he was in a wreck.” He said he didn’t remember family members or what happened in the wreck or in Laurel.

“I don’t know nothing about Mississippi,” he said. “I lived in New Orleans all my life. They say I worked, but I don’t know where.”

He’s been told about his family members, he said, “but I still don’t really know them.”

Lee did, however, remember that an “18-wheeler crossed over” and struck the vehicle he was in, killing at least one occupant, in September 2015. There is a civil case in Louisiana in that wreck.

“My lawyer has a box full of records,” Lee said, but he wasn’t sure about his lawyer’s name.

Williamson asked Assistant District Attorney Dennis Bisnette to try to find out who the attorney is so the court can get the medical records for free.

The judge granted the defense’s motion to get a mental evaluation for Lee. The trial had been set for next week but it has been continued to an unspecified date pending the evaluation and report.

It was believed that Lee “was going to be a paraplegic for life” after the wreck, Bisnette said, but he was able to walk into the courtroom and is being housed in the Jones County Adult Detention Center on $250,000 bond.

Lee and Cooley were in a dispute over a woman both men had been involved with, according to reports. Lee is accused of gunning down Cooley on Easter night in 2015.

After identifying Lee as the shooter, LPD investigators later learned of the crash that Lee was in and were told that, if he survived, he would be bed-ridden for the rest of his life. 

But early last year, they got word that he was “down there causing more trouble,” then-Capt. Tommy Cox said. He was placed on the National Crime Information Center database and arrested in New Orleans a couple of months later. 

Lee did not agree to waive extradition and the LPD had to get a governor’s warrant to allow LPD investigators to go to Louisiana and bring him back to Mississippi to face charges.

When he was returned to Laurel, then-Chief Tyrone Stewart said, “By any means necessary, the Laurel Police Department will see justice served.”

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