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Barber v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

October 22, 2013

DANIEL F. BARBER, JR. A/K/A DANIEL F. BARBER A/K/A DANIEL BARBER A/K/A DANIEL BARBER, JR., APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

Page 587

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 588

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: RANKIN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/20/2009. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. SAMAC S. RICHARDSON. TRIAL COURT CONVICTED OF MURDER AND SENTENCED TO LIFE IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS.

DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED.

FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER, BY: ERIN ELIZABETH PRIDGEN.

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

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

OPINION

Page 589

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

CARLTON, J.

¶1. Daniel F. Barber Jr. was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). On appeal, Barber argues a new trial is warranted because (1) the prosecutor presented evidence of crimes not before the jury; (2) a police officer, who was not an expert on ballistics, was allowed to testify about bullet trajectory; (3) the verdict was against the weight of the evidence; (4) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting or excluding certain evidence; (5) the prosecutor asked leading questions meant to elicit inadmissible or false testimony; and (6) his trial and appellate counsel were ineffective. [1] Finding no error, we affirm.

FACTS

¶2. On December 20, 2007, the Pearl Police Department responded to reports of gunfire on Boston Road in Pearl, Mississippi. When officers arrived, Patrick Spears, Barber's cousin, was found lying in the road, with gunshot wounds to his face and chest. Spears was transported to the hospital, where he died. Police searched Spears's pockets, looking for identification. None was found, but a straw and a small bag filled with a cocaine-like substance were discovered. Police detained two witnesses: Jonathan Hopson and his girlfriend, Aisha Walker, both seventeen years old.

¶3. Hopson testified tat he and Walker had asked Spears for a ride from Pearl to Jackson, Mississippi, the day of the murder. Spears agreed, but said he first needed to go " through Pearson," which is also in Pearl. Spears drove a short distance to Boston Road, where the three encountered Barber walking in the road. Spears, Hopson, and Barber are cousins, but Hopson and Barber had not expected to see Spears that day. Hopson testified that Barber waived them down in the road, and Spears stopped the car. When Barber approached the driver's side window, Barber quietly looked into the car, then hit Spears in the face. Spears got out of the car, and Walker, who was sitting in the back seat, followed in an attempt to discourage Spears and Barber from fighting. Hopson testified that he had known Barber all his life, and Barber's behavior was

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not " normal," but rather it seemed " like he was on something." Walker also noticed that Barber " had a crazy look on his face." Walker testified that after Spears exited the car, Barber immediately " pulled a gun out and shot [Spears] like four or five times." When the first gunshot rang out, Hopson, who was still sitting in the front passenger seat of the car, jumped behind the wheel and drove away. Hopson testified he fled out of fear that Barber would shoot him next. Hopson drove around the block and returned within a few minutes. Walker remained at the scene, where she and a neighbor contacted police. Both Walker and Hopson testified that Spears was unarmed, and police found no weapon at the crime scene.

¶4. Barber gave a different version of the events surrounding the shooting. According to Barber, Spears drove up to him, yelling obscenities from the car window. Spears then stopped the car and told Barber to come closer. When Barber approached the car, Spears reached out the window and shoved him. Barber shoved back, then took " three or four steps" away from the car. According to Barber, Spears exited the car and kept " attacking [him,] talking about he gotta gun and drawing in his pocket." Believing Spears was going to kill him, Barber drew his gun, closed his eyes, and began shooting. Spears fell to the ground and dropped his gun. As Spears reached for the gun, Barber shot him again to prevent Spears from firing at him as he walked away. Barber then left the scene.

¶5. Barber was found later that day in Jackson and arrested. When asked why he fled the scene, Barber explained that he was afraid of being arrested, even though he had shot Spears in self-defense.

¶6. Barber was indicted for Spears's murder and found guilty by a jury in the Rankin County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to life in the custody of the MDOC. Barber filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict or ...


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