Pearl River man guilty of murder

Published 9:12 am Friday, August 26, 2016

Billie Rawson, Jr., 42, of Pearl River, was found guilty of second-degree murder Wednesday in the stabbing death of his father nearly three years ago. District Judge William J. Burris announced the verdict after a two-day trial in his courtroom without a jury. Rawson faces mandatory life imprisonment Oct. 31, when he is sentenced by Burris.

Rawson was arrested Oct. 23, 2012, after St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies found his father, Billie G. Rawson, Sr., dead of a stab wound in the Pearl River home the men shared.  Family members had directed officers there, after the younger Rawson told a friend and then a family member during telephone conversations that he had killed his father. Family members gave police Rawson Jr.’s whereabouts, and he was tracked down in Mississippi.

Rawson Jr. told authorities multiple versions of what happened the night his father was killed. However, the younger Rawson testified during the trial that he had been abused throughout his childhood and that he killed his father in self-defense. His father was found nude with his head draped by a wig.

Rawson Jr., who had been released from the psychiatric ward of a hospital a week earlier, said that when he returned home that day, his father answered the door and wasn’t wearing any clothes.  The younger Rawson had been smoking methamphetamine, and the two engaged in a fight. Rawson Jr. said he hit his father in the head with a flashlight and that his father pulled a knife on him. Rawson Jr. said he was able to take the knife away but that his father sat on the sofa and pulled a second knife from the sofa.  Rawson Jr. said he then threw the first knife at his father and that it landed it his upper thigh, where it severed an artery. Rawson Jr. testified that he could not recall whether he later put the wig on his father’s head.

Assistant District Attorneys Elizabeth Kilian and William Macke argued that the coroner’s report about the father’s wound was inconsistent with the son’s version of what happened. Additionally, the younger Rawson had told family members and mental health staff at the hospital that he was going to kill his father.

Judge Burris rejected the younger Rawson’s self-defense claim and the defense attorney’s request for a manslaughter verdict.