Man accused of killing nuns charged with capital murder

DURANT, Miss. (WJTV) – Rodney Sanders, the man accused of murdering two Catholic nuns in their Durant home made his initial court appearance.

Sanders was charged with capital murder, and denied bond Monday. The families of Sister Paula Merrill and Sister Margaret Held, who devoted their lives to serving the poor, say they want justice to be served, but they want the death penalty taken off the table.

Rodney Sanders, 46, appeared emotionless inside the courtroom for his initial court appearance.

“Basically all that is, is just when we give him his formal charges that’s going to be brought against him,” said Akillie Oliver, District Attorney.

Sanders was arrested late Friday in the slayings of Sisters Paula Merrill and Margaret Held.

“Sister Margaret and Sister Paula were outstanding citizens of this community. They devoted their life to service to this community,” said Oliver.

After Monday’s hearing, Sanders now faces two counts of capital murder, burglary of a dwelling, and grand larceny.

We asked the District Attorney if she plans to pursue the death penalty.

“A decision to determine whether or not a person’s life is going to be taken for punishment of a crime is a very serious decision that we take seriously,” Oliver said. “I’m going to weigh in the factors, as of now, this case is still under investigation.”

Both Catholic organizations the nuns served under and family members say they don’t want the death penalty in this case, which is consistent with the beliefs of the Catholic Church.

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, in Kentucky, and the School Sisters of St. Francis, in Milwaukee, released a statement Sunday. The statement reads in part, “Justice for a heinous crime demands punishment, but it does not demand revenge.”

The District Attorney said that she believes Sanders will not receive a bond because this is a capital murder case.

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