Dewayne RichardsonMississippi Delta DA 4th District

Greenville, MS—Daniel Grace, 23, of Greenville, pled guilty to Second Degree Murder on Wednesday for killing Maurice Watson as a Washington County jury sat waiting to begin his trial, District Attorney Dewayne Richardson announced today.

On January 26, 2022 around 11:28 p.m., Beatrice Grace called the Greenville Police Department reporting shots fired and a dead person on the couch at her apartment on Cornell Avenue. Officers rushed to the scene and found a black male, Maurice Watson unresponsive on the couch in the living room, his body defaced with multiple gunshot wounds. Officers learned that immediately after the shooting, Daniel Grace fled the crime scene leaving his victim, multiple shell casings, and his black knitted hat behind. About four hours after killing Maurice Watson and disposing of the .40 caliber firearm, Daniel Grace turned himself in to the police.

Witnesses reported hearing Daniel and Maurice arguing shortly before shots rang out. After waiving his Miranda rights, Daniel asserted self-defense claiming that Maurice raised a knife at him, but after a thorough investigation and sweep of the living room, no knife or any other weapon was found near Maurice or in the living room. According to the autopsy report, Maurice Watson’s cause of death was homicide from multiple gunshot wounds, noting that Maurice’s intoxication level at his time of death was of no consequence to his homicide.

When faced with a First Degree Murder indictment coupled with his confession and the State of Mississippi’s unwavering commitment to pursuing justice for Maurice Watson, Daniel Grace resorted to pleading open to the lesser-included charge of Second Degree Murder. He now faces a minimum of twenty (20) years of mandatory incarceration and a maximum of forty (40) years of mandatory incarceration. The Court continued his sentencing hearing to a later date, where Maurice’s family will be able to testify as to their desires of an appropriate sentence in this case.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Laura K. Cooper and Kaylon McCou. When reflecting on the evidence collected, Cooper believes “the shooting of Watson was senseless and a clear example of overkill. Too many lives have been lost over short-tempers and gun violence. If you alter your pistol to make it an automatic weapon, you are the last person to be surprised about the damage caused by you pulling the trigger. This was not a case of self-defense.”

The Office of the District Attorney is deeply appreciative for the countless hours and work conducted by the Greenville Police Department, our state crime labs and medical examiners, and for the cooperation of the forthcoming witnesses.  DA Richardson added, that “Justice for this victim and his family means justice for our entire community.”  Gun violence must end.