Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 20, 2009

State autopsy: man’s death ruled suicide

By Billy Davis

The death of an Oxford man at a Batesville home on January 15 has been ruled a suicide, Panola County’s coroner, citing an autopsy, said Monday.

An autopsy performed the next day ruled that Michael Neal Rogers died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, said coroner Gracie Grant-Gulledge.

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Autopsies are performed by the state crime lab.

Rogers died at a home on Pine Lodge Road that is located inside Batesville’s city limits.

Gulledge said a gunshot residue test, which shows the presence of gunpowder, has been ordered and results are pending.

She confirmed that rumors are swirling surrounding Rogers’ death. The Panolian fielded a phone call last week that claimed Rogers was killed over a dispute.

Batesville police have collected statements from eyewitnesses that show the cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound, said Detective Paul Shivers.

“We have nothing to verify a crime was committed,” he said.

Rogers may have been playing with a .38 pistol that he thought he had unloaded, Shivers said, citing witness statements.  

The Panolian rarely reports on a cause of death caused by suicide due to the personal nature of the circumstances. But rumor and innuendo surrounding the death gave cause for a reporter to re-visit the incident.

A reporter went to the home Thursday, where authorities said they were investigating the incident, but a story of Roger’s death was not reported in the January 16 newspaper.

Batesville Deputy Chief Don Province confirmed Monday that the department has also heard various reports surrounding the death.

“My understanding is that the evidence shows he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” he said.