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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Local attorney and unknown victim found shot in Tyler Ave home

Investigators search for identity of mystery body

Oxford attorney Robert Pruitt, 38, was found dead of an apparent gunshot wound in his home last night.

Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer Elizabeth Jones said that Pruitt was found by his wife when she returned from out of town.

In addition to Pruitt's body, Jones said an unidentified man was also found dead in the Pruitt home.

"There was another, unidentified individual in the residence, also dead from an apparent gunshot wound," Jones said. "We are attempting to identify of this man and the reason for him being in the Pruitt residence." Jones would not comment on whether the incident is believed to be a double murder or a murder/suicide.

Jones declined to offer any more details about the deaths and requested that anyone who might know anything about this incident to please contact the Sheriff's Department.

Sources with the Sheriff's Department predict that this will be a difficult case for the already overworked department to solve.

"Two bodies, apparently unrelated, with no witnesses will be a tough nut to crack," said one source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Former prosecutor now a successful defense attorney

Law Offices of Pruitt & Rayburn
Robert Pruitt was a founding partner of Pruitt & Rayburn

Robert Pruitt was a 1999 graduate of the University of Mississippi, where he went on to earn his law degree. He passed the bar in 2003 and went to work for the Yoknapatawpha County District Attorney's Office.

He left the DA's office in 2006 to form a private practice with fellow ADA Gary Rayburn.

"We built a business together and helped a lot of folks," said Rayburn. "I can't believe he's gone. This is just a terrible tragedy."

Since turning his attention to criminal defense, Pruitt represented a number of high profile murder defendants in Oxford and most recently took over the defense of accused killer Dudley Brinkman after Brinkman's attorney was critically injured in a car accident on the eve of trial last fall.

"[Pruitt] was a great attorney and an even better person," said UM law professor Dwight Barlow. "We'll all miss him."

Robert Pruitt is survived by his wife, Vanessa. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

By Kemper Jones at 4:30 PM