Mississippi lawmaker found dead in apparent suicide at former congressman’s home

By Arturo Garcia
Monday, March 25, 2013 7:53 EDT
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Rep. Jessica Upshaw (R) via Mississippi State Legislature official site
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Authorities in Mississippi are investigating the apparent suicide of state Rep. Jessica Upshaw (R), who was found dead at a former lawmaker’s home on Sunday.

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported that Upshaw, who represented the state’s 95th congressional district, was found at the home of former state Rep. Clint Rotenberry (R) in Mendenhall, Mississippi, from a gunshot wound to her head.

“It appeared to be self-inflicted,” Simpson County Sheriff Kenneth Lewis said.

Simpson County Coroner Terry Tutor did not comment on Lewis’ statement. Tutor said on Sunday the case was being handled by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. The Associated Press reported that Rotenberry was not arrested on Sunday.

According to WLOX-TV, both Gov. Phil Bryant (R) and state House Speaker Philip Gunn (R) released statements regarding Upshaw’s death.

“Once again this Session, the House has been touched by tragedy,” Gunn said. “Representative Jessica Upshaw was an outstanding legislator and friend. She was one of the brightest and most competent members of the House. Our hearts break for her family, and our prayers go out to them during this tragic time.”

Upshaw, a 53-year-old former lawyer, was elected to the state legislature in 2004, representing Hancock and Harrison counties. She is the fifth state lawmaker to die in as many months. The other four — Rep. Joe Gardner (R), Rep. David Gibbs (D) and Democratic senators Alice Harden and Bernie Turner — died of natural causes.

The Daily Mail reported that Rotenberry served in the state House from 1992 to 2007, when he lost a primary runoff to current state Rep. Andy Gipson (R).

[Image via Mississippi House of Representatives official website]

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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