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Williams v. State

April 06, 1999

DONALD RAY WILLIAMS APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE



Before McMILLIN, C.j., King, P.j., And Diaz, J.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: McMILLIN, C.j.,

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/04/1997

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. L. BRELAND HILBURN JR.

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: MURDER - GUILTY; SENTENCED TO LIFE -MDOC

DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED - 4/6/99

¶1. Donald Ray Williams was convicted by a jury in the Circuit Court of Hinds County of murder for killing Cynthia Dixon. Williams has appealed his conviction, raising two issues. First, Williams asserts that the trial court committed reversible error in admitting into evidence two photographs of the victim's body taken at the crime scene. Secondly, Williams urges this Court to conclude that the verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. We find these issues to be without merit and, therefore, we affirm the conviction.

I.

Facts

¶2. Donald Williams and Cynthia Dixon had a seven year romantic relationship that had proven to be tumultuous. On the evening of May 14, 1997, Dixon was at her mother's home in Utica where she had planned to spend the night. It was not uncommon for Williams and Dixon to drive each other's vehicles, and on this evening Dixon had driven Williams's car to her mother's residence. Williams, intending to retrieve his vehicle, drove to the home in Dixon's car and requested that Dixon surrender the keys to his vehicle. Dixon complied with his request; however, when Dixon asked Williams to reciprocate and surrender the keys to her vehicle, a disturbance broke out for reasons that are difficult to glean from the record. According to the State's evidence, at some point Williams pulled a gun and began to chase Dixon through the house. Dixon locked herself in a bathroom for a time, but Williams was able to coax her out. As Dixon left the bathroom and was walking down a hall, Williams fell in behind her and, at some point, shot her in the back. Dixon fell to the floor and Williams proceeded to fire four additional shots into her body. Dixon died as a result of her injuries.

¶3. Williams, testifying in his own defense, admitted shooting Dixon; however, he claimed that, at most, he was only guilty of manslaughter because the killing was not a premeditated act. Williams claimed that his possession of a gun was merely a fortuitous event. He explained that it was his custom to travel with a gun, and that he had put the gun in his pocket on arrival at the home only because he knew he was going to be exchanging cars and he did not want to leave the pistol in Dixon's car where Dixon's young son might discover it and accidentally injure himself or someone else. Williams claims that, during the dispute over car keys, Dixon's mother began to push and shove him. He said that he had been drinking before arriving at the home and that his intoxication coupled with the aggressive nature of Dixon's mother's behavior simply caused him to lose his self-control. It was only at that point, he contends, that he pulled the pistol out of his pocket and started firing. His contention is that, therefore, at worst his crime is that of "heat of passion" manslaughter.

ΒΆ4. Williams was, in fact, given a manslaughter instruction by the trial court. However, the jury found Williams guilty of murder. Williams's post-conviction motions for ...


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