ANTHONY DARRELL THOMAS A/K/A ANTHONY THOMAS A/K/A ANTHONY DARELL THOMAS, APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/10/2008. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ROGER T. CLARK. TRIAL COURT CONVICTED OF DEPRAVED-HEART MURDER AND SENTENCED TO LIFE IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS.
FOR APPELLANT: MICHAEL W. CROSBY.
FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: ELLIOTT GEORGE FLAGGS.
BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND ISHEE, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ROBERTS, CARLTON, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR. MAXWELL, J., CONCURS IN PART AND IN THE RESULT WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY
¶1. Anthony Darrell Thomas was convicted in the Harrison County Circuit Court of depraved-heart murder and sentenced to life in prison for the death of Adrian Terrell Robinson. Thomas now appeals, arguing: (1) the jury's verdict was against the weight and sufficiency of the evidence; (2) a mistrial should have been granted due to the admission of an unfairly prejudicial statement that his father made against him; (3) his counsel was ineffective; (4) the prosecutor made misleading statements during trial; (5) cumulative errors warrant reversal; and (6) the trial court incorrectly revoked his in forma pauperis (IFP) status for purposes of appeal.
¶2. Finding no reversible error, we affirm.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
¶3. On April 24, 2003, Robinson, Cynthia Mullins, Bryan Malley, and Billy Weary (Thomas's father) were at Weary's home in Gulfport, Mississippi, where they frequently gathered to smoke crack cocaine. The house was described as a " shotgun house," with three rooms in a row. The first two rooms were separated by a sheet or curtain hanging from the ceiling. Robinson and Mullins were in the first room, and Malley and Weary were in the middle room using drugs. Later that evening, Thomas came to the home and spoke to Robinson about an incident involving Thomas's mother or sister. The details of the discussion are unclear from the record. Thomas left but returned later with three friends: Lionel Maurice and two men identified only as Arthur and Jason. Thomas began arguing with Robinson and hit Robinson in the head with a blunt object.
¶4. On April 26, 2003, Weary called the police to report a body in his yard. Officer William Riddle with the Gulfport Police Department responded. He searched the yard, but was unable to find a body. Weary again contacted the police. This time he took Officer Riddle directly to Robinson, who was on the ground near the road. Robinson was unconscious but alive. Robinson was taken to the hospital where he remained for approximately two months before passing away. The coroner found Robinson died of " brain damage due to a blow to the left side of the head."
¶5. Thomas was indicted for depraved-heart murder, and his trial was held on March 4, 2008. However, a mistrial was declared when one of the State's witnesses testified that Thomas had sold him drugs in the past.
¶6. Thomas's second trial was held September 9 through September 10, 2008. Thomas was found guilty of depraved-heart murder and sentenced to life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. He filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, alternatively, a new trial, which was denied. He now appeals.
I. Sufficiency and Weight of the Evidence
¶7. Thomas argues the jury's verdict was not supported by the sufficiency and weight of the evidence because the State's two eyewitnesses--Mullins and Malley--did not present credible or sufficient evidence that Thomas committed depraved-heart murder.
A. Sufficiency of the Evidence
¶8. A motion for a directed verdict or JNOV challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. Bush v. State,895 So.2d 836, 843 (¶ 16) (Miss. 2005). For evidence to be sufficient to sustain a conviction, it must show " beyond a reasonable doubt that [the] accused committed the act charged, and that he did so under such circumstances that every element of the offense existed . . . ." Id. (quoting Carr v. State, 208 So.2d 886, 889 (Miss. 1968)). We will reverse if the facts and inferences, viewed in the light most favorable to the State, " point in favor of the defendant on any element of the offense with sufficient force that reasonable [jurors] could not have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty . . . ." Id. (quoting Edwards v. State, 469 So.2d 68, 70 (Miss. 1985)). The evidence is viewed in the light most ...