Deputies release teenager from jail amid growing concerns murder charge was excessive

Rankin County sheriff, district attorney mum on questions over charge
Updated: Jan. 4, 2021 at 8:57 PM CST
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BRANDON, Miss. (WLBT) - Hours before a scheduled bond hearing, Rankin County deputies released the teenager charged with first-degree murder for killing his neighbor last week, a move that comes amid growing criticism from many questioning the charge in the first place.

DeShawn Xavien Douglas, 18, had been denied bond on the murder charge days earlier.

His attorney, Scott Gilbert, told 3 On Your Side the charge had not been dropped at this point.

“We will continue to investigate the case and we look forward to bringing the case to a favorable resolution in the near future,” Gilbert said in an emailed statement.

Meanwhile, the first supporters arrived Monday to protest Douglas’ arrest, charges and incarceration.

“I drove all the way from Texas to be here to stand in solidarity on behalf of his family and on behalf of him. I’m here. I want justice and freedom for DeShawn Douglas,” said Selena Charles. “He was gruesomely attacked. The guy deserved what he got.”

Charles questions the charge because she says the evidence supports Douglas acted in self-defense.

Charles and another supporter held signs Monday morning in front of the Rankin County Justice Center, part of a growing number of people -- particularly on social media -- who believe Douglas’ first-degree murder charge was excessive.

Mississippi law states a killing can only be considered first-degree murder in three situations: when it’s done by deliberate design, or premeditation; when it’s done while in commission of certain felonies, and when it’s done by deliberate design to kill an unborn child.

There is no evidence released to the public so far to indicate Douglas had planned to kill Miln.

But Gilbert said there was evidence that Miln had tried to get violent with Douglas before.

In October of last year, Gilbert said Douglas filed charges against Miln for assault after claiming Miln threatened to attack him with a shovel.

At that time, Miln was ordered not to have any contact with Douglas.

More than two months later, a neighbor’s cellphone video showed Miln actively trying to antagonize Douglas, even at one point saying “I am on your property” to the teenager.

Eventually that confrontation turned violent, Gilbert said, with Miln grabbing Douglas from behind and attempting to strangle him.

It’s after that attempt that Douglas broke free and shot him four times, according to investigators.

“We feel like he stood his ground. The Castle Doctrine,” said Justice Thomas, another supporter who stood outside the justice center hoping to bring awareness to Douglas’ case. “We want justice. That’s why we’re here.”

3 On Your Side asked Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey and the Rankin County District Attorney, Bubba Bramlett, for an interview to discuss the case.

Both declined.

We then emailed them with specific questions, including one asking what led the department to charge Douglas with first-degree murder if the evidence we have seen at this point didn’t support it.

Bailey and Bramlett read our questions but did not respond.

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