Thursday morning, William Bryant, 49, of Gulfport pled guilty to First Degree Murder earlier this week at the Harrison County Courthouse, according to Second Circuit District Attorney Joel Smith. Bryant was charged with killing his wife, Kari Marann Whitley, who was 43 years of age. After receiving the guilty plea, Circuit Court Judge Christopher Schmidt sentenced the defendant to the mandatory sentence for First Degree Murder, life in prison.
The case began on May 3, 2017, when Bryant called 911 at approximately 3 p.m. and the defendant stated “I killed my wife. I beat her with a hammer.” The Gulfport Police Department immediately responded to the Lindh Road address and discovered that the victim had been deceased for a few days. Gulfport police detectives determined that Bryant had removed his wife from an assisted living facility approximately one month prior to killing her. When Gulfport Police detectives interviewed Bryant, he said he quit his job and removed his wife from the assisted living facility when she began receiving her disability checks. “Bryant attacked his wife in her sleep and struck her multiple times with a hammer,” stated Assistant District Attorney Patti Simpson, who prosecuted the case.
After pleading guilty, Bryant apologized to the family in the courtroom and stated that he remembers striking the victim but doesn’t remember a lot of details because he had been drinking heavily during that day. After hearing the statement, Judge Schmidt responded by informing the defendant that voluntary intoxication is not a defense to committing a crime under Mississippi law. The State put on evidence of Bryant’s criminal history showing that he had previously been convicted of domestic violence for assaulting Whitley in 2015.