A Rienzi man has been convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated assault for a 2018 Hatchie Bottom incident that resulted in the death of a state trooper.

A Tippah County Circuit Court jury found Troy Anthony Eaton, 43, of Rienzi, guilty in the fatal shooting of off-duty Mississippi Highway Patrol F-29 trooper Kenneth Joshlin “Josh” Smith, 32, of Walnut. Eaton was also found guilty in the shooting and wounding of Rickie Dale Vick, a 38-year-old from Michigan City.

Eaton is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday by Judge Kelly Luther. He faces up to life in prison.

Originally scheduled for last year, the trial was delayed due to the pandemic.

According to court documents, Eaton shot the two men during an altercation on September 30, 2018, in Hatchie Bottom, an area in the extreme western portion of Alcorn County near the Tippah County line. Smith confronted Eaton on the night of the shooting about reportedly offering meth to a friend. During the confrontation, Eaton reportedly shot Smith and Vick. The shooting resulted in Smith’s death. Eaton admitted to the shooting but claimed self-defense. A gun and meth pipe with Eaton’s DNA on it was later recovered by investigators.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol called the killing senseless.

“Our hearts are deeply saddened and disturbed about the loss of one of our brothers,” according to an MHP statement released following the incident. “This is going to be very hard for so many families and officers across our state, please remember them all. ‘For this we will honor.’”

Staff Writer

Zack Steen was first hired in 1999 as a junior in high school to work in the Daily Corinthian design department. After several years away, he returned in 2014 as staff writer. He's married to the love of his life Brandy and they have 5 wonderful fur-kids.

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