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Leagea v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

October 15, 2013

WELDON LEAGEA A/K/A WELDON LEAGE, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/23/2011. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LAWRENCE PAUL BOURGEOIS JR. TRIAL COURT CONVICTED OF CAPITAL MURDER AND SENTENCED TO LIFE IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS.

FOR APPELLANT: MOLLIE MARIE MCMILLIN.

FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: LISA L. BLOUNT.

BEFORE LEE, C.J., ROBERTS AND CARLTON, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, CARLTON, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 185

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

ROBERTS, J.

¶1. A jury sitting before the Harrison County Circuit Court found Weldon Leagea guilty of capital murder. The jury was not able to unanimously agree on the sentencing verdict, so the circuit court sentenced Leagea to life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). [1] Leagea appeals and claims the

Page 186

circuit court erred when it refused his proposed jury instructions that would have allowed the jury to find him guilty of simple murder or being an accessory after the fact. We find that the circuit court did not err when it refused Leagea's proposed jury instructions. Finding no error, we affirm the circuit court's judgment.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2. During October 2007, James Yale Johnson and a group of friends traveled from Arkansas to the Isle of Capri Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. Johnson and his friends planned a golf trip, but when Johnson did not meet his friends one morning, they asked hotel security to check his room. Johnson was found dead in his hotel room. He had been shot twice. There were also signs that there had been a struggle in the room. The phone had been ripped out of the wall, and blood was spattered on the wall. Hotel security reported Johnson's death to the Biloxi Police Department.

¶3. Investigators from the police department found a note on the night stand in Johnson's hotel room. The note said " Chana," and " 963." There was also a phone number on the note. The phone number was the last number dialed from Johnson's phone. A review of the hotel's security footage led authorities to Leagea, who had checked into room 963 a few days earlier. When investigators searched room 963, they found a phone bill for the phone number that was written on the note that was found in Johnson's hotel room. The Biloxi Police Department placed an alert on the National Crime Information Center's database for other law-enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for Leagea.

¶4. Leagea was found in Oakdale, Louisiana. When Leagea's car was searched, officers recovered the same t-shirt and hat that he had been wearing in the hotel's security footage. A short time later, Chana Wells was apprehended in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Wells gave a statement and reported that she had not known Leagea long when she agreed to travel with him. Wells and Leagea left Baton Rouge and drove to the casino. Wells also told authorities that Leagea had gambled and lost his money. Leagea told Wells to find a " duck" - someone who would be willing to pay her for sex - because he did not have enough money to drive back to Baton Rouge. A short time later, Wells met Johnson on a hotel elevator. According to Wells, Johnson asked her whether she was " working." Wells went with Johnson to his hotel room, where they smoked marijuana, and Johnson received oral sex from Wells. Johnson gave her $100 for the oral sex, and an extra $26 so Wells could buy a " cold drink." At ...


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