Former long-time District Attorney Cono Caranna died Thursday at the age of 77.

“The District Attorney’s office was saddened to learn of the passing of Cono Caranna after his health battles in recent months," current D.A. Joel Smith said in a statement issued Friday. "Cono was a great mentor and friend to me and to many others in our community. He was the epitome of someone who dedicated their life to serving his community and country. He was a decorated war veteran, spent a decade as Biloxi City Attorney and then served as our District Attorney for seven terms and nearly three decades."

Caranna served as the district attorney for Hancock, Harrison and Stone counties for 26 years, retiring in 2012.

"As much as I appreciate the opportunities you have afforded me, I have decided to make way for another who will build and improve on the record my talented staff and I have achieved," Caranna said in a statement at the time. "I know that the citizens of Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties will make an excellent choice to serve them in the next four years. Few owe as much to as many as I do. The generosity and support you have given me made my career possible. You will always have my sincere gratitude and deep appreciation."

Caranna said he was proud of several "major innovations and minor adjustments" during his years in office that have made our justice system better.

"As District Attorney, he was recognized across the state as a leader who helped usher in numerous innovations to our justice system," Smith said, "including improved rights and benefits for victims and the formation of sexual assault investigation teams. His legacy of service and his voice for victims and for public safety will echo in our community for years to come. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family in their time of loss.”

Caranna is survived by his wife, Chancery Court Judge Margaret Alfonso; and son Cono Caranna III.

Funeral arrangements are not yet complete.

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