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Biloxi man given death penalty for killing 2-year-old stepson

Joseph David Heard was found guilty of killing his two-year-old stepson (Photo from the Harrison County Sheriff's Office)

A Biloxi man has been given the death penalty after being found guilty of killing his two-year-old stepson.

Joseph David Heard, 40, and Hailey Leann Heard, 24, were first taken into custody in January 2022 on charges of felony child abuse after the toddler was found unresponsive and later pronounced dead. During the medical examination, it was discovered that the child had been abused with multiple bruises and a broken bone.

The child’s mother, Hailey, admitted to investigators that she tried to cover up Joseph’s abuse by covering the boy’s mouth to muffle his cries. She recalled that Joseph held the boy up by his arms in one hand while repeatedly punching him with the other.

Hailey Leann Heard, 24, testified against her husband after he killed her son (Photo from the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office)

After testifying against Joseph, Hailey had her charge reduced from capital murder to first-degree murder, meaning she will serve life in prison. Joseph was found guilty of capital murder and will be executed by the state barring a successful appeal.

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