Man Who Murdered Friend Receives Life Sentence

For Immediate Release
June 2, 2009
For more information, please contact
Michael Guest at (601) 825-1472

Madison and Rankin Counties’ District Attorney Michael Guest announced today that Billy Ray Corkern pled guilty to murder in the August 2008 death of Robert Clemons. The defendant was sentenced to life in prison.

On August 24, 2008, at approximately 3:00 a.m., the Madison County Sheriff’s Department responded to the intersection of Sowell Road and North Old Canton Road after receiving a 911 call about an individual lying beside the road. Responding officers located Robert Clemons who was pronounced dead at the scene. It was determined that Clemons died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Investigators subpoenaed Clemons’ cell phone records and determined that shortly after midnight Corkern had spoken to the victim. Corkern came to the Sheriff’s Department and gave officers a statement in which he admitted to meeting the victim at Wal-Mart on the night of the murder, but he denied to knowing anything about the death of Clemons.

Corkern immediately became the prime suspect in the death of Clemons and was asked two days later to return to the Sheriff’s Department to clarify the events that occurred on the night of Clemons death. Corkern began the interview by giving officers the same statement he had previously given, but when confronted with cell records that contradicted his story he admitted to killing Clemons.

Corkern told investigators that Clemons asked Corkern to kill him. Corkern stated that on the night of the murder he followed Clemons to the intersection of Sowell Road and North Old Canton Road where he shot him multiple times. After the murder he took Clemons’ cell phone and wallet in an attempt to make it look like a robbery. He then drove to Byram where he disposed of the items taken from Clemons and the gun used in the murder. Corkern informed investigators that Clemons had given him several hundred dollars and over 1000 tablets of Xanax and Oxycodone as payment for his murder.

Guest stated, “This case began with the body of the victim being located early in the morning on a desolate stretch of road. Law enforcement had no witnesses, no suspects, and very little physical evidence. Even in the face of overwhelming odds the Madison County Sheriff’s Department was able to arrest Robert Clemons’ killer within days of his death. Sheriff Towbridge and his department’s hard work has resulted in Clemons’ killer being brought to justice.”

Guest added, “We will never know why Corkern chose to kill Clemons that night. What is certain is that Corkern will now pay the price for his crime and will spend the rest of his life behind bars.”