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This Hour: Latest Mississippi news, sports, business and entertainment

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Miss. jobless rate rises in March as payrolls fall

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi's unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent in March as more people entered the labor force than could find jobs.

A separate survey shows state employer payrolls fell for the fourth straight month.

Both sets of figures - adjusted to cancel out seasonal changes - were released Friday by the U.S. Labor Department.

Mississippi's unemployment rate was 7.4 percent in February, while it was 9 percent in March 2013.

It's the first monthly increase in the jobless rate since June 2012. Mississippi has the sixth-highest unemployment rate among the states.

The report found 96,000 Mississippians were unemployed in March, up more than 2,000 from February but down from 116,000 in March 2013. The number of people with jobs held steady, but more people were looking for work, pushing up unemployment.


Judge rules in favor of Picayune School District

PICAYUNE, Miss. (AP) - A Pearl River County judge has dismissed a lawsuit that alleged Picayune school officials were liable for a high school baseball player's injuries by failing to protect him from a hazing incident.

The lawsuit was filed by Jeffrey Dixon Sr. and Amy Dixon, parents of 15-year-old Jeffrey Dixon Jr. The teen was struck in the chest April 19, 2011, before the Picayune Memorial High School baseball team was to play a game against Lumberton High.

The family now lives in Alabama.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2012 in Pearl River County but was transferred to federal court in Gulfport. A federal judge returned the lawsuit to Pearl River County Circuit Court last summer.

The Picayune Item reports Circuit Judge Anthony Mozingo on Thursday ruled for the school district.


1 convicted in West Point stabbing death

WEST POINT, Miss. (AP) - A Columbus woman has been convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole for the stabbing death of a West Point in 2012.

Clay County District Attorney Lindsey Clemons tells the Daily Times Leader a jury convicted Shunbrica Roby on Wednesday.

Roby was one of three women arrested in the death of 27-year-old Marcus Payne of Hamilton. Authorities say Payne was found outside a convenience store and later died at a Tupelo hospital.

Clemons says the trials for Roby's sister and cousin, Latwanna Roby and Natisha Roby, both of Macon, are scheduled during the July term of circuit court.


Man loses appeal in cocaine case

The Mississippi Supreme Court has ordered a new sentencing hearing for a Lowndes County man for sale of cocaine.

Freddie Webber is serving 30 years in prison after a jury found him guilty during a trial in September of 2011. Webber was found to be a habitual offender. The Supreme Court upheld his conviction in 2013.

In his post-conviction petition, Webber argued prosecutors shouldn't have been allowed to amend the indictment during his trial to seek harsher punishment under the habitual offender statute.

Prosecutors argued the indictment was properly amended before Webber was convicted. They say Webber was not prevented from putting on a defense to oppose the habitual offender issue.

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered Webber to be resentenced as a non-habitual offender.


Plan would allow private money vehicle for mall

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (AP) - The developers of an outlet mall in Southaven want to create a public improvement district so they can pursue private financing for infrastructure improvements to the site.

Outlet Shops of the Mid-South would locate on a 324,000-square-foot facility to be built in Southaven.

A public improvement district would have a board of directors that may issue bonds and collect assessments from property owners in the district to pay for the infrastructure improvements such as water and sewer systems, roads and other improvements.

The debt is not backed by the city, county or the state.

Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite tells The Commercial Appeal the city council will meet next week to look at the proposal and to set a date for a public hearing.


Former nurse will serve 15 years for child porn

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) - A former nurse at Ocean Springs Hospital will serve 15 years for downloading thousands of images of children engaged in sex acts.

The Sun Herald reports Alberto S. Gonzalez pleaded guilty in February to seven charges of child exploitation before Circuit Judge Dale Harkey. The state recommended a sentence of 30 years on each count to run concurrently, with 15 years to serve without the possibility of parole followed by 15 years of post-release supervision.

Harkey followed the recommendation of the state, also ordering Gonzalez to pay $7,000 in fines plus court costs and a $1,000 assessment to the Mississippi Children's Trust Fund. Gonzalez will have to register as a sex offender.

Gonzalez was arrested in August 2010 after deputies seizing a room full of computers at his home.


USM names new Science & Technology dean

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - The University of Southern Mississippi has named David T. Hayhurst the new dean of the College of Science and Technology

Hayhurst previously served as dean of the College of Engineering at both San Diego State University and the University of South Alabama.

Pending approval by the Board of Trustees, State Institutions of Higher Learning, The Hattiesburg American reports Hayhurst will begin his new role at Southern Miss on August 15.

The College of Science and Technology at Southern Miss is one of six degree-granting colleges at Southern Miss with approximately 175 full time faculty members spanning multiple campuses and educating more than 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students.


Woman will testify against husband in bank robbery

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (AP) - Prosecutors say a Louisiana woman has admitted her role in the armed robbery of Keesler Federal Credit Union in Diamondhead and has agreed to testify at her husband's upcoming trial.

Assistant District Attorney Chris Daniel tells The Sun Herald 34-year-old Aleisha Diaz Landry pleaded guilty Monday to the Dec. 6, 2012, robbery and admitted her drug addiction clouded her judgment.

Daniel says Landry, of Bogalusa, La., admitted she went in the credit union to check out its security before the robbery and returned to her car.

Circuit Judge Larry Bourgeois sentenced her to 15 years in prison and suspended 10 years, leaving five to serve.

Officials at the time said more than $3,000 was taken.

Forty-three-year-old Jessie Landry is set for Monday in Hancock County Circuit Court.

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