Durr sentenced in 2020 murder on John Street in Prentiss

Published 9:05 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Vincent Durr, 24, of Bassfield was sentenced at the Lawrence County Courthouse Friday morning for the March 2020 murder of Christopher Easterling. Durr was sentenced by 15th Circuit Court District Judge Brad Touchstone.

Prentiss Police Officers were called to John St. at 5:25 a.m. on March 13, 2020, with reports of a motor vehicle accident. When the officer arrived, they found a wrecked vehicle in the front yard of a home. Christopher Easterling was found deceased inside the vehicle with multiple gunshot wounds.

Prior to the sentencing, the State offered a proffer by attorney Beau Stewart.

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Stewart said if this case were to go to trial, that the state would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Durr did in fact kill Easterling.

According to Stewart, state’s evidence showed that when the Prentiss Police Officer arrived, he came in contact with Durr who was outside the wrecked vehicle. The officer observed Durr remove an AR style rifle from the vehicle. A struggle ensued and the officer was able to get the rifle out of Durr’s hands before Durr fled on foot through a neighboring yard.

Residents in the area also witnessed Durr outside of the vehicle before he fled. One neighbor reported hearing three to six gunshot wounds prior to a loud boom which would have been the motor vehicle striking the home and tree before coming to a stop.

Blood evidence was recovered from the side of the vehicle that was later determined to be that of Durr. A t-shirt that Durr fled the scene with was recovered from a neighbor’s yard and was proven to have Easterling’s blood on it.  The AR style rifle had been in possession of Durr earlier that day in photographs posted to social media. Through ballistic testing at the crime lab, that rifle was determined to have fired the shots that killed Easterling. Further investigation indicated that Durr owed Easterling money from a lost dice game earlier in the evening. Durr reportedly left the game to go find the money and bring it back to Easterling. Durr was later seen getting into Easterling’s vehicle by an associate of Durr’s. The same associate called Durr and heard an argument between him and Easterling. Within 10 minutes of that call, the motor vehicle accident was reported on John Street.

The state’s autopsy revealed Easterling received four gunshots: two to the right thigh, one to his left thing and one that penetrated his lower lip.

A warrant was issued by then Prentiss Investigator Richard Browning for Durr’s arrest. In August 2020, Lamar County Deputies pulled Durr over for a traffic violation. Durr fled on foot but was apprehended a short time later. Lamar County Deputies charged Durr with two counts of drug trafficking while in possession of a firearm.

Durr pleaded guilty to the crime of second-degree murder and the two counts in Lamar County.

“In light of the fact that you have owned up to these egregious crimes in this case there is nothing I can say that is going to make these people feel better or bring their loved ones back and there is nothing I can say that will impact you,” said Judge Touchstone before issuing Durr’s sentence.

“But that is something you’re going to have to live with the rest of your life and if you don’t get your soul right it will torment you the rest of your life. You took someone’s son, grandson and loved one. You didn’t just kill him that day, but you killed a little of their heart and you are going to pay for that.”

Several of Easterling’s family members were in the courtroom.

When Judge Touchstone asked Durr if there was anything he would like to say to the court or family members, he replied, “I am sorry for the situation.”

Touchstone sentenced Durr to 20 years day-for-day without parole for the second-degree murder charge and 20 years for each count in Lamar County to run concurrently with the murder sentence. Standard fines and assessments on all three counts were also imposed.

“This was an incredibly good case,” said Prentiss Police Chief Richard Browning. “We had everything to prove he did it and he knew if he didn’t take the please he would go away for a much longer time.”

According to Browning, after Durr is released from these sentences, he will be placed in federal custody for eight years for previous crimes.