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Barnes v. State

September 01, 1998

LEWIS BARNES, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE



Before Thomas, P.j., King, And Southwick, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas, P.j.

Barnes v. State, 97-KA-00131-COA, __ So. 2d __

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/06/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. MICHAEL RAY EUBANKS

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: JEFFERSON DAVIS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: ARSON: SENTENCED TO SERVE A TERM OF 20 YRS IN THE MDOC; 10 YRS TO SERVE & 10 YRS SUSPENDED; DEFENDANT PLACED ON POST-RELEASE SUPERVISION FOR 5 YRS & UNSUPERVISED PROBATION FOR 5 YRS;

¶1. Lewis Barnes appeals his conviction of arson raising the following issues as error:

I. BECAUSE THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED BY THE STATE WAS INSUFFICIENT TO SUPPORT A CONVICTION OF ARSON BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT AND TO THE EXCLUSION OF EVERY REASONABLE HYPOTHESIS CONSISTENT WITH INNOCENCE, THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY OVERRULING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR A DIRECTED VERDICT AND BY REFUSING TO GRANT DEFENDANT'S PEREMPTORY INSTRUCTION.

II. BECAUSE THE JURY'S VERDICT WAS AGAINST THE OVERWHELMING WEIGHT AND SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE IN THAT THE STATE DID NOT PROVE MALICE AND WILLFULNESS AS NECESSARY ELEMENTS OF FIRST DEGREE ARSON, THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY REFUSING TO GRANT DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT NOTWITHSTANDING THE VERDICT.

¶2. Finding no error, we affirm.

FACTS

¶3. At about 7:35 a.m. on November 21, 1994, the Prentiss Fire Department received a report of a fire at the residence of Lewis Barnes. Upon arrival, Chief Howard Kelly observed smoke coming out of the eaves, but no visible flames. The firefighters found no open windows or doors and had to make entry breaking the screen door and the glass window of the back door. Chief Kelly testified that the fire was smoldering rather than blazing because the house was sealed tight, thus depriving the fire of oxygen.

ΒΆ4. State Deputy Fire Marshall Ricky Davis investigated the house the next day. During his investigation Davis questioned Lewis Barnes about the fires. Davis asked Barnes about how many keys there were to the home, and he determined that there were, in all, six keys to the three main door locks. Davis recovered five of these and he asked Barnes if he had the sixth key. Barnes told him that the sixth key might be on the key ring for one of his vehicles, which his sons had driven. His sons returned and as Barnes was getting the key ring from the car, Davis saw him take something off the key ring and place it in the fist of his right hand. Barnes gave the key ring to the officer with his left hand and was ...


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