Stephen McLaurin is led into Jones County Justice Court. (Photo by Mark Thornton)

Judge sets bond at $260K, McLaurin says they’re ‘trying to get the charges dropped’

Stephen McLaurin shuffled into Jones County Justice Court, hands in cuffs, feet shackled, and two women approached him before corrections officers placed him in a holding room.

Both women, who identified themselves as sisters of 47-year-old shooting victim Michael Tyson of Ellisville, reached out and hugged McLaurin — the man who is charged with murder in their brother’s death.

“They were big buddies,” a woman who identified herself as McLaurin’s sister told a reporter.

The women were not available for an interview after McLaurin was escorted back to jail from his court appearance.

McLaurin, 53, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Tyson, whose body was found on a closed bridge near the Ellisville city limits last Friday. Judge Howell Beech set his bond at $260,000 during his initial appearance on Tuesday afternoon.

“They’re just trying to get the charges dropped,” McLaurin said when asked what Tyson’s sisters said to him.

He said they were close friends and that Tyson’s death was an accident, but when asked what happened, he said, “I’m going to keep it to myself.”

He dabbed at tears as he stood before the judge and was asked questions about understanding his rights and how to make bond. When Beech asked him if he wanted an attorney for his initial appearance or if he wanted to proceed, McLaurin said, “I don’t know. I’ve never been in this position before.”

McLaurin told Jones County Sheriff’s Department investigators that he and Tyson had been alligator hunting off the closed bridge on Ellisville-Tuckers Crossing Road. After a few shots were fired, McLaurin’s gun jammed and as he was trying to repair it, the gun accidentally fired and struck Tyson, according to a Facebook post by the JCSD. 

McLaurin said he panicked and fled in Tyson’s Toyota pickup without attempting to call 911. He told investigators that he panicked again when officers tried to pull him over on Sunday. He led officers on a 20-minute chase before being apprehended and charged with felony fleeing and felony motor-vehicle taking. There was no mention of whether the gun had been recovered. 

McLaurin was known as an appliance repairman who owned his own business in the Currie Community, which is where JCSD deputies apprehended him last Sunday afternoon.

The JCSD thanked the Ellisville and Laurel police departments for their assistance with this case.

Second-degree murder means that the act was not premeditated. 

Beech set McLaurin’s bond at $200,000 for the murder charge, $50,000 for felony taking of a motor vehicle and $10,000 for felony fleeing.

Tyson’s body was sent to the crime lab in Jackson for an autopsy. It’s been reported that he was shot but sources with knowledge of the case say it also appeared that Tyson had been beaten.

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