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WILLIAM P. (BILL) HUNT v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

JANUARY 18, 1989

WILLIAM P. (BILL) HUNT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, ROBERTSON, AND ANDERSON

ANDERSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

I.

This is an appeal by William (Bill) P. Hunt, who was convicted of murder in the Circuit Court of Lafayette County (on change of venue from Lowndes County) and sentenced to serve a term of life imprisonment in the Mississippi Department of Corrections. We affirm.

 FACTS

 On October 22, 1985, at approximately 12:30 A.M., Stephen Chobotor, who lived next door to Billy Jordan, was awakened by an "explosion" and a "flash of light." Approximately two minutes later, he heard the sound of "squealing tires." He looked out the window and saw a small, light colored car with the headlights off driving away from the area of Jordan's home.

 Later that morning, Chobotor discovered Jordan's body in the driveway of Jordan's house. Officials subsequently determined that Jordan died from a shotgun slug wound to the left chest. During their investigation the officers found two

 business cards, one for Hunt and the other for Carolyn Forrester, on the floor inside the entrance door to the den of Jordan's home. According to Jordan's maid, the cards were not on the floor when she left the house at 12:00 noon on the previous day, October 21, 1985.

 Forrester stated she knew Jordan but never had given him one of her business cards. Forrester testified that on the night of October 20, 1985, she met Hunt in a bar, gave him one of her cards, and saw him put it in his wallet with his own business card he had earlier shown her. Hunt told Forrester that he had "worked as a Private Investigator for him [Jordan], delivered large sums of money to the Sheriff for him, and that a lot of the apparent suicides in Columbus were not suicides, they were murders."

 Gerry Nelson was the star witness for the state. He testified that he and Hunt had been friends for twenty years. When he returned home to Columbus, he and Hunt often got together, rode around in his car and drank. During these times Hunt confided in Nelson that he felt Jordan had taken advantage of one of his former girlfriends. Prior to the Jordan killing, Hunt told Nelson that he was "pretty pissed off" at Jordan because Jordan had not done all he could concerning some "criminal charges" pending against Hunt.

 On Saturday, November 16, 1985, while riding around and drinking, Hunt bragged that he finally had taken care of Jordan. Hunt then instructed Nelson to turn down a deserted road surrounded by woods and to stop the car. Hunt got out of the car and entered the woods. When he came out of the woods in three or four minutes, he got back into Nelson's car holding a shotgun, and told Nelson, "This is the gun." Nelson recognized the gun as one he had seen several times at Hunt's home.

 Hunt told Nelson that he went to Jordan's house late at night to try to rectify his problem regarding the charges against him. He took his shotgun, propped it against the wall of the house and knocked on the door. Jordan came to the door and when Hunt was sure Jordan was unarmed, he grabbed his shotgun, aimed it at Jordan, and told him to come outside to talk to him. Hunt then attempted to force Jordan three times to make a call to take care of his legal problems, but Jordan said "I'm sorry, Bill. I can't help you, but I will represent you." Hunt then said, "Good-bye, Jordan," and shot him. Hunt also told Nelson that he had slipped his girlfriend (Foster) a "mickey" so that she would pass out, if he needed an alibi.

 On November 30, 1985, Hunt and Nelson went into the utility room of Hunt's parents' home where Hunt pointed to a bundle in the corner and told Nelson that it was the gun he had retrieved from the woods and that he needed to stash it somewhere because "there was some heat on." (The police had searched Hunt's residence twice prior to this date, but had not found the gun.) Although the gun already was wrapped in green plastic bags, they wrapped it further in other plastic garbage bags and taped it up with a strong, fabric-type tape.

 Nelson then drove Hunt to a railroad crossing where Hunt hid the gun. When Hunt got back into the car, he told Nelson, "Remember a hundred sixty feet." (Investigating officers from the District Attorney's office corroborated Nelson's testimony regarding the location of the shotgun.)

 Nelson picked up Hunt in the early morning hours on the next day, December 1, 1985, and they went to the home of Arthur Mills. Hunt concocted a plan to get some money from Mills. Hunt got himself all wet and then told Mills he had an accident and needed help to pull his car out of a ditch. Nelson waited until shortly after he saw Hunt and Mills leave in Mills' truck. [These facts were corroborated by Mills' testimony.] Nelson returned and as Hunt entered the car he said, "I have fucked up." Hunt expressed the need to get his story straight because he was sure Mills "was going to press charges."

 Nelson subsequently was charged in regard to the incident with Mills. He did not reveal information about Hunt and Jordan's killing to the police until December 10, 1985, after being charged. He testified that "Bill Hunt had gotten me in pretty deep with his problems and I didn't see no reason why he should drag me down with him."

 On December 10, 1985, Nelson led officers to a point some 160 cross ties down a railroad track. There the officers found a package containing a twelve-gauge shotgun. The gun was ...


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