JACKSON, Mississippi— An autopsy report says a man admitted killing a gay mayoral candidate in one of the poorest, most conservative states in an attack that led to concerns about a hate crime.
Marco McMillian’s death on Feb. 27 got significant attention after his campaign said he was the first viable, openly gay candidate for office in the Mississippi. McMillian’s sexuality was not an issue in his campaign, but because he was gay and black some speculated that his death might have been a hate crime.
The autopsy report says McMillian died of lack of oxygen but that blunt force trauma most likely contributed to his death. Exactly what caused the lack of oxygen could not be determined. The report also said there were abrasions and lacerations on McMillian’s head, back and legs and multiple “areas of second and third degree burns.”
The autopsy report said a suspect in the case “admitted to killing” McMillian and dumping his body near a Mississippi River levee.
The suspect, Lawrence Reed, also is black. A spokesman for McMillian’s campaign has said he wasn’t sure how the two were acquainted.
McMillian’s body was found one day after Reed crashed McMillian’s SUV head-on into another vehicle.
Reed was charged with murder and has been held without bond.
McMillian’s family released a statement March 3 that said his body was “beaten, dragged and burned.”
But the coroner, Scotty Meredith, said at the time that McMillian was not dragged by a car, though he was dragged out of a vehicle. Meredith had no comment on the autopsy report Friday.
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi asked the FBI in March to review the case for possible hate crime charges.
Federal law covers acts motivated by bias against sexual orientation, while Mississippi’s state law against hate crimes covers acts motivated by race, but not sexual orientation.