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Man who killed Meridian police officer sentenced to life in prison

Meridian police officer Kennis Croom was killed when responding to a domestic disturbance in June 2022 (Photo courtesy of the Meridian Police Department)

The man who killed beloved Meridian police officer Kennis Croom will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Dante Marquez Bender, 32, was sentenced last week after being charged with one count of capital murder and one count of murder. On the afternoon of June 9, 2022, Bender had the cops called on him after killing his pregnant fiancé, Brittany Jones. Croom was the first officer to respond to the home on 51st Avenue, and that’s when Bender shot him once in the head and five times in the chest. Bender fled the scene but was taken into custody about 80 miles from Meridian in Ackerman the very next day.

Dante Bender (Photo courtesy of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation)

During a plea hearing, Bender admitted to the murders and said he was under the influence of alcohol at the time. The judge ruled that intoxication was no excuse and sentenced Bender to life in prison without the possibility of parole. It was also revealed that Bender had previously worked as a police officer in Newton before being fired five months before the killings.

Following Croom’s death, there was an outpour of support from Mississippians and Alabamans alike. Croom, a Tuscaloosa native who was 30 years old at the time, was honored with flags across both states being flown at half-staff. He was laid to rest at Memory Hill Gardens in his hometown.

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