Update: Tea party leader Mayfield dead of apparent suicide
Attorney Mark Mayfield was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound Friday at his Ridgeland home.
Mayfield, vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, and is one of the three men charged with conspiring with Clayton Kelly to photograph U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's bedridden wife in her nursing home and create a political video against Cochran.
DAILY LEDES: Madison County conservative activist remembers Mayfield
Ridgeland Police Department responded to Mayfield's home to investigate the shooting.
Ridgeland Police said the department received a call at about 9:03 a.m. from Mayfield's wife saying her husband has shot himself.
Mayfield's attorney, Merrida "Buddy" Coxwell, said he has known Mayfield for much of his legal career.
"I'm totally shocked," Coxwell said. "You couldn't find a nicer man."
Coxwell said he and Mayfield were both mountain bike enthusiasts.
When asked if the charges against Mayfield may have been the catalyst for his apparent suicide, Coxwell would only say that anything he says wouldn't come out right.
Mayfield of Ridgeland, an attorney and state and local tea party leader, was arrested last month along with Richard Sager, a Laurel elementary school P.E. teacher and high school soccer coach. Police said they also charged John Beachman Mary of Hattiesburg, but he was not taken into custody because of "extensive medical conditions." All face felony conspiracy charges. Sager also was charged with felony tampering with evidence, and Mary faces two conspiracy counts.
The arrest of Mayfield, well-known in political, business and legal circles, caused shock in Mississippi, in a criminal case and election that already had Mississippi in the national spotlight.
Gov. Phil Bryant said in statement of Mayfield's death: "Deborah and are saddened to hear of the loss of Mark Mayfield. He was a long-time friend, and he will be missed. Our prayers go out to his family in this tragic moment."
U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper also expressed his sadness on Mayfield's death. "He was a dear friend to many people, and such an incredible father and husband," Harper said.
Secretary Hosemann said in a statement, "Mark Mayfield was a friend, an effective attorney, a devoted family man, and was deeply committed to the State of Mississippi and to our Country. He will be missed. Lynn and I pray for his family during this difficult time.
Madison Assistant Police Chief Robert Sanders on Mayfield's death and the charges he faced in Madison: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. We're still continuing our investigation, and this is a totally separate matter that's being investigated by the Ridgeland Police Department."
"That's not true," Sanders said when asked if SWAT team members were sent to arrest Mayfield last month when he was charged with conspiracy in the Cochran photo case. "We did not send members of the SWAT team to arrest Mr. Mayfield. Investigators went to his business."
Contact Jimmie E. Gates at email@example.com or (601) 961-7212. Follow @jgatesnews on Twitter.
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