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Lewis v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 24, 2014

JAMES LEWIS A/K/A JAMES A. LEWIS, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/20/2012. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JEFF WEILL SR. TRIAL COURT CONVICTED OF MURDER AND SENTENCED TO LIFE IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS.

FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER, BY: W. DANIEL HINCHCLIFF.

FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: LADONNA C. HOLLAND.

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

OPINION

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

BARNES, J.

¶1. James Lewis was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Lewis is represented on appeal by the Office of the State Public Defender, Indigent Appeals Division. His counsel filed a brief consistent with Lindsey v. State, 939 So.2d 743 (Miss. 2005), having found no arguable issues for appeal. Lewis was given time to file a pro se brief to raise issues for this Court's review, but he did not do so. This Court has examined the record and finds no arguable issues warranting review. Thus, we affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2. On June 11, 2011, a crowd gathered at a Winter Street home in Jackson, Mississippi, for a party. Eighteen-year-old Dennis McDougles was among the guests in the backyard. Some of the guests were swimming in an above-ground pool, and others were dancing near the pool. McDougles was dancing and " stunting" --meaning throwing money into the air--

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during a song called " Make It Rain." Shortly thereafter, at approximately 9:30 p.m., two men jumped the fence into the backyard. The men were armed with handguns, and their mouths were covered by bandannas. They were later identified as James Lewis and D'Marco Minor. The men approached McDougles, who was also armed. Words were exchanged, and McDougles ran. It appeared to witnesses that McDougles was trying to flee into the house through the back door. But before he got to the door, one of the men caught up with him and pushed him to the ground. The man held a black handgun to McDougles's head and said: " B-- - - - -, didn't I tell you don't move[?] I told you I'd kill you. Don't move." A struggle ensued, and gunshots followed. The shots were described as " steady," and going " back and forth." McDougles was shot multiple times and later died. The two men fled the scene. McDougles had $311, a wallet, cell phone, and keys in his pockets; nothing was taken from him during the struggle.

¶3. Police arrived quickly, as they were already in the neighborhood and had heard the gunshots. An ambulance arrived minutes later. While McDougles was being loaded into the ambulance, police noticed Minor walking in the area. Police deemed his behavior suspicious and detained him. Minor was wearing all white and had blood spots on his clothing.

¶4. As police were detaining Minor, a female ran out of a house around the corner on Peabody Street, yelling that her brother had been shot. Police were led to Lewis, who was lying on the floor in the living room, wounded. Blood was spattered on the steps leading into the house. Lewis and McDougles were both taken to the University of Mississippi Medical Center. McDougles died from blood loss shortly after arriving at the hospital. Lewis was treated and released. He did not pursue charges against anyone for his injuries. McDougles and Lewis were the only two gunshot victims in Jackson, Mississippi area hospitals that night.

¶5. Although the crime scene was dimly lit, several witnesses were able to identify Lewis and Minor in photographic lineups as the perpetrators. Two witnesses saw Minor at the party prior to the shooting. One of these witnesses had known Minor and Lewis her whole life. She was in the pool when the song " Make It Rain" was playing. She stated that while McDougles was tossing money into the air, Minor was " looking at [McDougles]" ; " [Minor] was just standing there looking. He wasn't where he was at, but he was looking at him." She saw Minor leave the party shortly thereafter. When the men jumped the fence, she was able to recognize them because their bandannas were not on correctly. She testified that " the bandannas w[ere]n't even on their face[s]. Like--it was like over their mouth[s], but you could see their nose[s] and their eyes." And she testified Minor was wearing the same white and red shirt he had worn to the party that night. Other witnesses testified that one of the perpetrators was wearing a red shirt, and the other was wearing a black or gray shirt. Witnesses' ...


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