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DONALD WAYNE WILLIS v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

JANUARY 13, 1988

DONALD WAYNE WILLIS
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, ANDERSON, AND ZUCCARO

ANDERSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

This case of first impression originates in the Circuit Court of Marion County. Appellant Donald Wayne Willis challenges his conviction and sentence for manslaughter in the death of an unborn fetus. We find no merit in his challenge and therefore

affirm the conviction.

 Willis was convicted of murder in the 1981 shooting death of Brenda McLendon. This conviction was upheld by this Court at 475 So. 2d 163 (Miss. 1985).

 At the time of her death, Mrs. McLendon was seven months pregnant with a quick, male child. Appellant was thereafter indicted in June of 1982 for manslaughter in the death of the unborn fetus under Mississippi Code Annotated Section 97-3-37 (1972). Appellant demurred to the indictment and the trial court sustained the demurrer, dismissing the indictment. The state appealed this ruling to the Supreme Court which reversed the trial court and upheld the legal sufficiency of the indictment in the death of the unborn child. State v. Willis, 457 So. 2d 959 (Miss. 1984).

 Appellant was thereafter tried in this cause and found guilty. He was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment and now appeals from this manslaughter conviction and sentence, challenging only the sufficiency of the evidence.

 I

 At about 12:30 a.m. on October 31, 1981, Donald Wayne Willis went to the home of Michael and Brenda McLendon in Improve, MS. Willis said he urgently needed to talk to Mr. McLendon and explained he was carrying a shotgun because he had been rabbit hunting. Upon entering the home Willis threatened to kill McLendon, accusing him of having reported some incident to the police. Willis also threatened to kill McLendon's wife who was seven months' pregnant and present in the room at the time.

 After about five hours of talk, Willis directed McLendon to go to the bathroom, so he could" do what he came to do. "As Willis put the gun to McLendon's head, the front door slammed. Willis immediately turned and gave chase to Mrs. McLendon, who had left the house, attempting to run to her father-in-law's home approximately 200-300 yards away. Mr. McLendon followed Willis as he pursued Mrs. McLendon. As they ran along the path, McLendon heard four gunshots. He then heard Willis run back in his direction. McLendon hid in the bushes until Willis had gone. He then discovered his wife's bloodied body in his father's yard. He and his family took her to a local hospital, where she was dead on arrival. Neither McLendon nor his wife had any weapon.

 Willis was found shortly afterward hiding in the loft at his aunt's residence. An unspent .12 gauge live shell was found in Willis' pocket. The sheriff also recovered four spent hulls along the path Mrs. McLendon had travelled before being shot.

 The weapon used was also recovered.

 II.

 The sufficiency of the indictment was upheld in an earlier decision by this Court. The only issue now before the Court is the sufficiency of the evidence.

 Appellant alleges that the state failed to prove all of the elements charged in the indictment. In particular (1) that he knew Mrs. McLendon was pregnant, (2) that the child was" quick "within the meaning of the ...


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