JACKSON – The state Court of Appeals has upheld the life without parole sentence given Willie Prater in 2006 for his role in the beating death of a Starkville woman.
Prater was one of five people charged in the 2001 beating death of Juanita Miller. Prater was convicted in Oktibbeha County of capital murder.
Prosecutors say Miller was found severely beaten inside her home by Starkville firefighters responding to a fire report. Her husband was not home at the time. She later died at a Columbus hospital.
Prosecutors say a fire was started to cover up the slaying and robbery.
On appeal, Prater argued that lawmen coerced him into confessing to the crime. The Appeals Court said Tuesday that the court record showed Prater freely waived his rights and confessed.
The Associated Press