Man charged with conspiracy in fatal shooting

Ryan Phillips
SDN Editor

A Starkville man with a criminal history has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the shooting death of an Oktibbeha County man Friday night. 

The Starkville Police Department arrested 27-year-old Henry Neal, Jr., on Saturday, charging him with conspiracy to commit murder after 33-year-old Joseph Turnipseed, Jr., a resident of the Blackjack community, was shot to death sometime around 10 p.m. Friday night at West Main Arms apartments at the intersection of West Main Street and South Long Street. 

When Starkville police officers arrived on scene, they found Turnipseed dead in the driver's seat of a vehicle. No one else was injured in the shooting. 

SPD Public Information Officer Sgt. Brandon Lovelady said on Sunday the shooting remains under active investigation. 

Turnipseed’s body was sent to Jackson for an autopsy. It's uncertain how many times Turnipseed was shot. 

While Neal’s role in the shooting is uncertain, court records shed light on his criminal past. 

As recently as Jan. 10, Neal was indicted by an Oktibbeha County grand jury for three counts of selling cocaine, a charge he pleaded not guilty to on Monday, Feb 4 — less than a week before the shooting that left Turnipseed dead. 

He was out on $10,000 bond for the cocaine charge at the time of the shooting. 

Neal also has a violent felony conviction going back to 2010, when he was indicted for two counts of armed robbery after brandishing a firearm at a local Sprint Mart, taking cash from the convenience store with two attendees present. 

On the armed robbery case, one count was retired after Neal pleaded guilty to a single count of armed robbery. 

Circuit Judge Lee Coleman sentenced him to 14 years in prison, with 10 suspended and four to serve, with five years post-release supervision on the single count of armed robbery. Court records show Neal was released from prison in February 2015. 

While Oktibbeha County Circuit Court records indicate Turnipseed did not have a violent history in Oktibbeha County, he did have a criminal record, including a drug conviction in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court for cocaine possession in 2013. 

Turnipseed's shooting death is being investigated as a homicide and could represent the first murder in Oktibbeha County for 2019.