A man who was initially booked for leaving the scene of a fatal accident in Hollywood Cemetery now faces second-degree murder charges in the Aug. 23 hit-and-run killing of a local grocery store manager, McComb police confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
Jalek Barton, 18, of Ruth, appeared in municipal court, where his charge was upgraded on Wednesday.
He’s accused of killing Rachel Jackson McKnight, 39, of Summit, a manager and longtime employee at Kroger in McComb.
It’s unclear why Barton’s charges have been upgraded to murder, which would indicate that he intended to kill McKnight.
Detective Victoria Carter declined to speak about any possible connection between Barton and McKnight, but said the new charges came about as the result of an ongoing investigation.
Barton was arrested without incident at a house in McComb hours after he allegedly struck McKnight on a lane near the northwestern corner of the cemetery.
He was initially charged with felony leaving the scene of an accident after he drove away without administering aid to McKnight.
He had been held on $100,000 bond, but that amount rose to $500,000 with the new charge. Barton has remained in the Pike County jail since his arrest.
He has a preliminary hearing on Sept. 18 in the McComb municipal court.
McComb investigators identified evidence at the scene of the accident that led them to Barton within about four hours of the accident taking place. Officers had help from a Mississippi Highway Patrol crash reconstruction team in their investigation.