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SAMUEL NEWTON HOLLIDAY, III v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

JULY 18, 1984

SAMUEL NEWTON HOLLIDAY, III
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE PATTERSON, C.J., HAWKINS & PRATHER, JJ.

PATTERSON, CHIEF JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

In the Circuit Court of Madison County, Samuel Newton Holliday, III was tried on a charge of murder and convicted of manslaughter. The court imposed a sentence of twenty (20) years in the custody of the State Department of Corrections with five (5) years suspended.

Holliday appeals, assigning the following as error:

 I. The court erred in admitting into evidence colored, photographic slides, appearing as Exhibits 7 and 8.

 II. The verdict was against the great weight of the evidence and the law governing the crime of murder and/or manslaughter.

 III. The trial court committed reversible error in refusing to grant Appellant's Instruction D-2.

 On the morning of July 23, 1981, Grace Holliday entered the bedroom of Stella Holliday, and found her dead of a gunshot wound to the chest. Stella Holliday was her son's ex-wife.

 Responding to Mrs. Holliday's call, Officer Charles Sullivan of the Canton Police Department found Stella's body lying in the middle of her bed with a pistol by her side. The teenage son of the deceased had covered her body with a bedspread. Investigation revealed no sign of a struggle in the bedroom and no indication of forced entry of the house. The testimony discloses, however, a sliding glass patio door was unlocked. Neither fingerprints nor smudges were found on the pistol.

 At trial the state called several witnesses to refute defense counsel's suggestion on opening statement that Stella Holliday committed suicide. Emily Endris and Helen Gregory testified that Stella had been in good spirits the night before at their regular bridge game. Gregory testified further that Stella had told her Newton Holliday, III, had threatened her and that she was afraid of him.

 To further rebut the intimation of suicide, forensic scientist Michael Allen testified that in his opinion the weapon found on the bed had fired the projectile found in a wall of the room and that this particular gun would leave a heavy deposit of lead residue when fired at fewer than 18 to 24 inches. Since there was little such residue on

 the blouse Stella Holliday was wearing at the time of her death, Allen concluded that (1) the distance between the victim and the gun at the time of the shooting was greater than 18 to 24 inches; or (2) some object was between the victim and the weapon at the time of the shooting. No such object was found. FBI tests revealed gunshot primer residue on Stella's hands but were inconclusive as to whether her hands were on or simply near the firearm at the time it discharged.

 Dr. Rodrigo Galvez, who performed the autopsy, cast further doubt on the defense's position by testifying that at the time of the shooting the gun was between one foot and three feet from the victim's chest.

 Highway Patrol Investigator Jimmy Boxx testified further he found in the ashtray beside Stella Holliday's bed two cigarette butts of the brand smoked by Holliday. Boxx interviewed Holiday twice, on July 25 and again on July 28, and received conflicting information from him. First, on July 25, Holliday told Boxx he owned a gun fitting the description of the one found on Stella's bed, but that he had not seen the weapon in a year and a half. On July 28, however, Holliday claimed to have seen the gun during the past two weeks. Secondly, Holliday told Boxx on July 25 that it had been weeks, ...


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