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KENNETH RAY GRIFFIN v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

OCTOBER 08, 1986

KENNETH RAY GRIFFIN
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE WALKER, C.J., DAN LEE AND GRIFFIN, JJ.

WALKER, C.J., FOR THE COURT:

This case is appealed from the Circuit Court of Scott County, where Kenneth Ray Griffin was indicted for murder, convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to twelve (12) years in the Mississippi State Penitentiary.

On Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 1984, Griffin, along with Oliver Hopper and Deborah Nichols, drove from Jackson to Meridian for Thanksgiving dinner. On the way back they stopped in Forest at the home of Peggy Slaughter who is Griffin's sister. During the day Griffin drank some whiskey and beer. Hopper and Nichols smoked marijuana.

 The only person at Slaughter's home when the trio arrived between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. was James Brent. Griffin, Hopper, Nichols, Brent and Slaughter were all deaf mutes.

 An argument soon developed between Griffin and Hopper. Griffin wanted to have sex with Nichols, and she refused. Hopper told Griffin he should leave Nichols alone. Griffin and Hopper also argued when Griffin repeatedly poured water on a fire Hopper was attempting to start in the bedroom fireplace.

 Next, Griffin shoved Hopper, who then shoved Griffin over a table and hit him with a piece of firewood. The two men continued the fight in the adjacent room where there were no witnesses. At one point Griffin walked into the kitchen, picked up a knife, and returned to the roof where Hopper was. The altercation continued. Hopper was stabbed in the side with the kitchen knife and later died from the wound. Griffin admits he stabbed Hopper but claims that it was in self-defense.

 He argues the two assignments of error discussed below.

 I. THE COURT ERRED BY NOT DIRECTING A VERDICT FOR GRIFFIN IN THAT THE VERDICT WAS AGAINST THE OVERWHELMING WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE.

 Griffin argues that the trial testimony makes out a clear case of self-defense. He points out that Hopper struck him with a piece of firewood and that Hopper was much larger than he was. According to Griffin's testimony, Hopper weighed 225 pounds, and Griffin 146.

 The State argues that Griffin is barred from raising the denial of his motion for a directed verdict. A defendant who introduces evidence on his own behalf waives any error in the overruling of his motion for a directed verdict made at the close of the State's evidence. Shavers v. State, 455 So.2d 1299, 1302 (Miss. 1984). However, Griffin also requested a peremptory instruction at the close of all of the evidence; and, assigned that the verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence in his motion for a new trial. Accordingly, the question is properly before this Court. Peden v. State, 425 So.2d 1356 (Miss. 1983); Harris v. State, 413 So.2d 1016 (Miss. 1982).

 Focusing on the evidence most favorable to the State, as is required in assessing the case, we find no basis for reversal of the jury's verdict. There was conflicting testimony, and the question of self-defense was presented fairly to the jury as finder of fact.

 James Brent testified that Griffin started the argument with Hopper by throwing water on the fire. After Griffin went into the bathroom where the fuse box was, the lights went out. Oliver then hit Griffin on the shoulder with a piece of wood. Brent testified that Griffin went and got a knife from the kitchen. Brent saw Hopper hit the appellant with the wood only once and did not see what happened after the two men went into the other room.

 Deborah Nichols testified that Griffin shoved Hopper first and then Hopper got a log and hit Griffin on the shoulder. In her opinion Griffin started the" ...


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