DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/31/2013
JACKSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. ROBERT P. KREBS JUDGE
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: GEORGE T. HOLMES ANDRE DE GRUY
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: JEFFREY A. KLINGFUSS
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: ANTHONY N. LAWRENCE III
BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., CARLTON AND JAMES, JJ.
¶1. Jeffrey Grey Allen appeals his conviction of capital murder and sentence of life without the possibility of parole. On appeal, Allen claims that (1) the trial court erred in allowing hearsay testimony of alleged prior bad acts and character evidence; and (2) the verdict is not supported by the weight of the evidence. Finding no error, we affirm.
¶2. On March 2, 2011, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department responded to a call about the discovery of the body of Charles Ike Mason Jr. Sheriff's investigators entered Mason's home and observed that he had been killed by a single gunshot to his back. Investigators also observed that Mason's left pants pocket was turned out, but investigators found cash in Mason's right pants pocket. Investigators discovered a Remington .22-caliber spent shell casing on the floor just inside Mason's front door. The sheriff's department sent Mason's clothing to a laboratory for DNA analysis, specifically to examine the turned-out pocket, but testing recovered no DNA evidence from the clothing.
¶3. Donna Freeman, Mason's former girlfriend, and Allen were eventually arrested and charged with murdering Mason during the commission of a robbery, in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-3-19(2)(e) (Rev. 2014). Freeman and Mason were romantically involved for approximately eight years. Although Freeman eventually began a relationship with Allen, Mason continued to provide her with money, clothes, automobiles, and other items.
¶4. On December 7, 2011, Jermaine Sims, a Jackson County jail inmate, informed investigators that Allen had given him "information" relating to Mason's death. Sims testified Allen told him that on the day of the murder, he was with a female named Donna and a "little young guy, " whose name Sims did not know. Sims testified Allen told him that Freeman shot Mason, and then afterwards, Allen removed $4, 000 "out of the left front pocket of the victim." Sims also testified that Allen told him Freeman went to Mason's home on the day of the murder to ask for money, and that Mason refused to give her any money. Sims testified Allen said he "went in and got the gun and put another round in it" after Freeman shot Mason. Allen allegedly told Sims that "the young guy" then came into the house after Allen and raised the volume on the television. Allen informed Sims that he threw the rifle in a creek, along with a wallet. Allen then gave the "young guy" some money, and also gave his father $200 to "pay a bill."
¶5. Based on the information gathered from Sims, investigators questioned Joshua Davis. Davis had previously lived next door to Allen and his family, and Davis was friends with Mason. At trial, Davis testified that he, Allen, and Freeman used to smoke spice, a synthetic marijuana, together. Davis testified that on March 1, 2011, Allen and Freeman picked him up at a convenience store to drive Davis to his job at a farm. Davis testified the three smoked spice in the car and ended up at Mason's house. Freeman exited the car, explaining that she was going inside Mason's house to "get some clothes." Davis and Allen remained in the vehicle, smoking spice and listening to the radio. Allen exited the vehicle about five minutes later, but returned to the car within a few minutes. Davis testified that Freeman then came out of the house, hysterical, yelling, "I just shot [Mason], and he's got the gun." Allen got out of the car and tried to calm Freeman down. Davis testified that Allen then asked him to go with him inside the house. Davis stated that he remained on the porch while Allen entered Mason's residence. Davis observed a rifle on Mason's lap, and testified that Allen picked up the rifle and "spun another shell through it in case [Mason] wasn't dead." Davis testified that Allen then took money and a wallet from Mason's left pants pocket. Davis, Allen, and Freeman then left the residence, and Allen threw the wallet, rifle, and Mason's cell phone off of the "Black Creek Bridge."
¶6. Davis testified that once they arrived back at his house, Allen gave Freeman some money and "told her if she was to tell anybody, she was going to end up like [Mason]." Allen then gave Davis $300 and told him to keep his mouth shut.
¶7. Davis pled guilty to accessory after the fact to Mason's murder. Although Davis testified that he heard no conversation between Allen and Freeman about robbing Mason on the day of Mason's murder, he testified that two weeks prior, he overheard a conversation between Allen and Freeman during which Allen allegedly told Freeman he knew where Mason hid his money, and they were "going to go and get it, " meaning steal Mason's money. When questioned about why he previously told investigators that Freeman exited Mason's house with the rifle and mentioned nothing about observing a rifle on Mason's lap, Davis responded that his "mind was not working right" and that he was intoxicated during the events of March 1, 2011. Davis explained that his memory "just came back to him."
¶8. Investigators interviewed Allen October 25, 2011. During the interview, Allen admitted that he w as with Freeman when she shot Mason and that he helped Freeman dispose of the rifle. Allen stated he and Freeman went to Mason's house after dropping Davis off at work so Freeman could borrow some money. He said Freeman went inside Mason's house, and then came out a few minutes later, without a weapon, hysterically saying that she had "shot the gun, " but not indicating that she had actually shot Mason. Allen stated that he then went inside and saw Mason still alive, lying on the kitchen floor and complaining repeatedly about his back hurting. Allen said he observed the television on at a high volume. Allen then grabbed the .22 rifle, which was on the floor, and asked Mason what was going on, unaware that Mason had been shot. Allen told investigators that he grew concerned that Mason might try to shoot him, so he left the house and ejected a spent shell casing from the rifle on the way out. Allen said that when he left the house, Mason was still alive and still complaining about his back. Allen and Freeman got back in the car and left, with the rifle.
¶9. Allen told investigators that as they drove away from Mason's house, Freeman informed him that Mason had tried to "force himself on her, " and she physically resisted by slamming Mason against the sink and shooting him. Allen and Freeman then drove to a bridge and threw the rifle into a creek. Allen later showed investigators where he had thrown the rifle, and took them to the location where ...