13-Year-Old Mississippi Child Sentenced to Die in Prison Has Been Resentenced to Reduced Prison Term


Demarious Banyard, left, in 2006

Demarious Banyard was 13 when he was arrested and ultimately sentenced to die in prison. He was accused of being involved in a robbery-murder with an older man in a public housing project in Jackson, Mississippi. EJI won a new trial for him in 2010. Last week he was resentenced and should be released in the next several years.

Hinds County Circuit Judge Jeff Weill allowed Demarious to plead guilty to culpable negligence manslaughter in the 2003 shooting death of a pizza deliveryman. Mississippi attorneys Rob McDuff and Sibyl Bird represented Demarious at resentencing, where he received a 20-year prison term.

At his original trial, the defense presented evidence that Demarious did not want to participate in the crime, a robbery and shooting of a pizza delivery man. Demarious testified that he became involved only because he was scared of his 19-year-old co-defendant, Dennis Ragsdale, whose threatening words and actions caused Demarious to fear for his own life.

The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed Demarious’s conviction in 2010, ruling that the jury should have been allowed to consider his claim of being under duress by Ragdale when Ballard was shot.

Ragsdale pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 20 years; he is scheduled to be released in March 2018.