Capital Murder

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Vincent Ruffin reacts as he is photographed Friday morning outside the Panola County Sheriff’s Department, where he was booked for capital murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The Panolian photo by Billy Davis

Fourth suspect charged with murder

By Billy Davis

Panola County authorities have named Michael Vincent Ruffin a fourth murder suspect in the March 25 shooting death of Ira Phillips in Crenshaw.

Ruffin, 39, is an alleged drug dealer and investigators believe he was involved in the murder, Sheriff Otis Griffin said Monday.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Ruffin was arrested last Friday at his home in Crenshaw and booked about 10:30 that morning at Panola County jail.

He surrendered to deputies without a fight, said Sheriff Otis Griffin.

Phillips, 20, was gunned down in north Crenshaw, in an area of new homes known locally as the “Renaissance.”

Griffin has said Phillips was shot in the back and speculated that he was fleeing when shot.

Two murder suspects were arrested that same night and a third was arrested the next morning, authorities have said.

Damion Stokes, JaQuentin Lawson and Derrick Dunston, all of Crenshaw, are facing capital murder charges for the shooting death of Phillips.

Griffin said Ruffin is charged with capital murder and conspiracy to commit capital murder.

Ruffin has served time in federal prison on a narcotics conviction, according to the sheriff.

A search of federal inmate records show Ruffin was released in 2005. The search did not describe the conviction nor other details.

Griffin had earlier credited the  Crenshaw Police Department as well as the Quitman and Tunica county sheriff departments and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation for their help in the investigation.

Phillips was a graduate of North Panola High School where he played football for the Cougars. He had also attended Northwest Community College.