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WILLIAM B. JONES v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

DECEMBER 07, 1983

WILLIAM B. JONES
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE BROOM, ROY NOBLE LEE AND DAN LEE

BROOM, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Manslaughter is the offense for which appellant (William B. Jones, defendant herein) was convicted, in the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, the Honorable William F. Coleman presiding. Trial was actually upon a murder indictment but resulted in the manslaughter, lesser offense, conviction, and sentence of twenty (20) years imprisonment. The unusual feature of the case is that the defendant's victim, his wife, Laura C. Jones, lived almost a year and a half after she was found severely beaten on November 9, 1980. Insufficiency of the evidence is the only ground argued for reversal. We affirm.

Facts of the case are briefly stated as follows: The deceased and defendant were first married in April, 1979, but they were divorced in a short time and remarried September 20, 1980. The deceased (Laura) was a nurse, and lived with the defendant in her small house in Clinton. Her daughter, Rebecca, in the late afternoon of November 9, 1980, found her sitting on the floor in the upstairs portion of the house with dried blood in her nose and ears. The house was in disarray with the phones having been pulled or cut loose. An ambulance was called which carried Laura to Hinds General Hospital, where she was treated. Subsequently she was in a nursing home at intervals until death on April 30, 1982. At trial the defendant admitted that on the occasion in question he and his wife, Laura, had an altercation in which he struck her some five or six times with his hand, which he said was in self-defense. Other testimony will be related in discussing the assignment of error.

 Sole proposition argued by the defendant is his contention that the verdict "is contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence" .

 Testifying in his own defense, the defendant stated that he was 47 years old, father of three children by a former marriage, and that he last saw Laura on

 Friday night, November 7, 1980, when he left her standing at the top of the stairway. (She was found injured, semi-unconscious on Sunday, November 9, 1980). His version is that when he came home on Friday afternoon November 7, 1980, his wife began to curse him, berate him, and threaten to have her former husband, T. T. Dearing, and also some "big fellow" stomp him and kill him. He said that when she was on the telephone he jerked the cord from the wall, after which she went upstairs and he followed her. Upstairs he said that she jerked the phone from the wall and in the process turned over the coffee table, spilling its contents on the floor and breaking a glass on top of it. Then he said she kicked him and scratched him and tried to choke him. He said that she also bit him and finally he slapped her with the palm of his hand some five or six times, after which he left. At that point, she was standing at the top of the stairway throwing his clothes after him. Upon deciding to move out, Jones returned to the house, approximately an hour later, and picked up the clothes. Laura again came to the top of the stairway, whereupon Jones left and never saw her again.

 Testifying in his behalf were a number of character witnesses who established that he enjoyed a good reputation. He also presented testimony of others who saw scratches on him.

 First doctor to see Laura after her admission into the hospital on November 9, 1980, was Dr. Eugene Wood, who stated that she was comatose and "her eyes were swollen; her face was bruised; she had markings on the upper neck in the submandibular area. She had blood - dried blood in her right ear." Brain scans were done on Laura, as shown from the following excerpted from Dr. Woods' testimony,

 Q And what type of brain injury did the brain scan show?

 A The brain scan showed an enlargement of the ventricles and some loss or widening of what is call (sic) convolutions of the brain, which usually indicates brain injury and brain - I don't like the word used, brain death - but say brain injury anyway. Something similar that you would see in boxers' brains sometimes when they've had repeated

 trauma.

 Q Her brain had some things consistent with what you see in a boxer -

 A Trauma, yes. They felt it was consistent with an electroencephalogram showed consistent with anoxia or loss of oxygen to the brain.

 After her death, Laura's body was autopsied by Dr. Rodrigo Galvez, from whose testimony ...


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