DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/11/2011
HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JOHN C. GARGIULO JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: WILLIAM ALEX BRADY II
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: BARBARA WAKELAND BYRD
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: JOEL SMITH
BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND MAXWELL, JJ.
¶1. Darrell Ross Brooks was convicted of murder and sentenced as a habitual offender to life without parole in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Brooks filed post-trial motions, which the trial court denied. Brooks now appeals, asserting that the trial court erred by: (1) failing to grant his motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV); (2) denying his motion for a directed verdict and request for a peremptory jury instruction; and (3) denying his motion for a new trial.
¶2. On December 7, 2009, shortly after 10:00 p.m., David Shivers was shot in the back of the head and died. Shivers's body was found on the floor of the kitchen in his mother's house in Gulfport, Mississippi, by his mother, Patricia Shivers; his brother, Jimmy Shivers; and Jimmy's live-in girlfriend, Kari Parker. All three were in the house when they heard a gunshot, but none of them witnessed the shooting. The kitchen window above the sink was broken, and glass shards were found in the wound in Shivers's head, leading investigators to the determination that the perpetrator shot Shivers through the kitchen window. The forensic pathologist estimated Shivers was shot with a shotgun from approximately six feet away.
¶3. Dustin Cottrell, a neighbor who was outside smoking at the time of Shivers's murder, testified that he heard a gunshot around 10:00 p.m., then saw someone run from the alleyway behind Patricia's house. This person, who Cottrell said "appeared to be black, " was wearing dark clothes and had a hood pulled over his face. Cottrell lived across the street and two houses down from Patricia. Cottrell lost sight of the man but heard the rattle of a chain-link fence, which made him think the man was jumping over the fences as he escaped.
¶4. Investigators with the Gulfport Police Department learned that Shivers had been dating Amy Brooks, Brooks's estranged wife. Gabrielle Ledet, a friend of both Amy and Brooks, testified Brooks had become depressed after his separation from Amy. Ledet stated Brooks had begun following Amy and showing up at her work. After fighting with Amy at her work, Brooks was told to stay off the premises. Ledet testified Brooks told her he would kill any man who was dating Amy. Ledet and Brooks texted back and forth most of the day of Shivers's murder. Ledet stated Brooks texted her around 9:00 p.m. on the night of the murder, saying he had a gun and was going to kill himself.
¶5. Brooks had been working at McDonalds. His manager, Heather Lee, testified Brooks was angry about the state of his marriage. Lee said Brooks had been following Amy and knew about her relationship with Shivers.
¶6. Charles Oatis, Shivers's coworker at McDonalds, testified Brooks spoke with him about his problems with Amy. Oatis stated Brooks knew Amy was seeing Shivers, and Brooks showed Oatis a picture of Shivers and told him, "I'm going to kill that man." This occurred a few days prior to Shivers's murder. Oatis said that on the day of Shivers's murder, Brooks asked him more than once if Oatis could help him buy a gun for ...