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Suspect: Flirtation prompted killing

LAWRENCEVILLE -- In a taped interrogation, a Mississippi murder suspect told authorities he beat a Norcross man to death -- with, among other items, a 32-inch flat screen television -- because the victim had made homosexual advances.

Reggie Pulley, 31, described by authorities as an unemployed drifter, admitted to bludgeoning Darryl Mason, 38, with his fists, feet, the television and a chair -- but only after the openly gay man attacked him with scissors, he said in interviews played for jurors Tuesday.

The alleged April 2008 attack happened in and around the bathroom and kitchen of Mason's Meadowood Commons apartment, where he died of blunt force trauma.

Pulley, who had lived in the area and knew the victim, failed an aptitude test for the Marine Corps and had a falling out with a friend in the Norcross area. He went to Mason's apartment, the only option that came to mind, to ask for a ride, he said on tape.

Mason answered the door in a bathrobe, scissors in hand, and made several passes at Pulley, which set him off, he said.

"Literally, I didn't mean to kill him," Pulley told interrogators. "I ain't no killer or anything like that. I was just having a bad time in Georgia."

Lead investigator Det. Jason Carter, then of Norcross police, called the crime scene "gruesome" and the work of someone in a rage. The bludgeoning was enough to break the victim's ribs and traumatize his head.

Mason was gainfully employed at an adult novelty store near Atlanta, and Pulley's sole purpose in visiting was to take his property, Carter believes.

"He was desperate," Carter said.

Pulley is charged with murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and two counts of theft by taking. After beating the victim, Pulley allegedly stole his 1997 Mazda Protege, along with jewelry, watches, two PlayStation gaming systems, video games and DVDs.

On tape, Pulley admitted to driving six straight hours to his native Water Valley, Miss., and selling much of the property. His son and parents -- a well-respected pair in the Water Valley community -- live there.

Carter said Pulley was caught when he tried to hock the Mazda for $500, and a leery buyer took the car's vehicle identification number to Water Valley police. The car came back wanted in the Norcross homicide, and police soon apprehended Pulley.

Officers were initially called to Mason's residence when he'd failed to show up for work, and a friend stopped by the blood-spattered apartment to check on him, Carter said.

In interviews, Pulley initially told police he'd found the victim dying under a heap of household items in the bathroom, then fled with his stuff.

An hour later, provided with cigarettes and Coca-Cola, Pulley took a deep breath on tape and changed his tune, but not before he asked to serve his prison time in Mississippi, near his family.

Carter and local authorities explained that jurisdictional restrictions would prevent that.

Assistant District Attorney Richard Vandever said he expected to rest his case Tuesday afternoon.

Pulley's defense attorney, David Whitman, is expected to begin calling witnesses this morning.