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Clayton v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 19, 2015

QUINCY CLAYTON A/K/A QUINCY LEE CLAYTON, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: JONES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/30/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. BILLY JOE LANDRUM. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: CONVICTED OF MANSLAUGHTER AND SENTENCED TO TWENTY YEARS, WITH AN ADDITIONAL FIVE-YEAR SENTENCE ENHANCEMENT FOR THE USE OF A FIREARM DURING A FELONY, WITH THE SENTENCES TO RUN CONSECUTIVELY, ALL IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, AND ORDERED TO PAY A FINE OF $5,000.

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

FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: SCOTT STUART.

BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., ROBERTS AND FAIR, JJ. LEE, C.J., GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES, ISHEE, CARLTON, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR. IRVING, P.J., CONCURS IN PART AND DISSENTS IN PART WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION.

OPINION

Page 523

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

ROBERTS, J.

[¶1] A jury in the Jones County Circuit Court convicted Quincy Clayton of manslaughter for the death of Clayton's wife, Alice Wash. Clayton. The circuit court sentenced Clayton to twenty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) for the manslaughter conviction and five years for the firearm sentence enhancement pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-37-37(1) (Rev. 2014), to run consecutively to his manslaughter sentence. Clayton's post-trial motions were denied, and he appealed, asking this Court to determine whether the circuit court erred in not applying the Weathersby [1] rule and whether the application of the firearm sentence enhancement was proper. We affirm Clayton's conviction for manslaughter; however, we reverse on the issue of the firearm sentence enhancement and remand for Clayton to be resentenced without the enhancement.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

[¶2] Following his first trial, a jury convicted Clayton of murder; however, on December 13, 2012, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed his murder conviction and remanded the case to the circuit court for a new trial. Clayton v. State, 106 So.3d 802, 803 (¶ 1) (Miss. 2012). The case was reversed due to the circuit court's denial of Clayton's requested jury instruction on an alternative theory of defense. Id. at 804 (¶ 6).

[¶3] Upon remand, Clayton's second trial was held on September 5-6, 2013. At trial, Alice's sister, Mary Wash, testified that she was living with Clayton and Alice at the time of the incident on June 21, 2009. According to Wash, Alice and Clayton had been arguing the night before, and the fighting continued the following morning, when Alice swung a knife at Clayton a couple of times while they were all in the kitchen. Wash. was able to convince Alice to put the knife down. Clayton then began ironing some clothes for church, but Alice pulled them off the ironing board and stomped on them. Alice then went to their bedroom and shut the door. Clayton finished ironing, and he went to the bedroom to retrieve his church shoes. Alice refused to let him in the room to retrieve his shoes. Alice and Clayton continued arguing through the bedroom door. Wash. testified that from her seat in the living room, she could see down the hall to where Clayton was standing outside the room. She stated that she did not see him kick open the bedroom door, but when she turned to look down the hall again, she saw him with the shotgun and heard a " boom." Wash. stated that when she heard the " boom," she jumped out of her chair and ran down the hall toward Clayton, and they began wrestling over the shotgun. Clayton let go of the shotgun, and, as he was leaving, he said, " that will shut her up," and " I'm through."

[¶4] Clayton also testified at trial. Clayton stated that he and Alice had been arguing the night before the incident, and

Page 524

that Alice would not let him sleep in their bedroom. The following morning, the arguing continued, and Alice took his clothes, threw them on the floor, and stomped on them. According to Clayton, he picked up the clothes, and Alice started slapping him and " coming after him." Clayton pushed her into a chair, and Alice then went into the kitchen and returned with a knife.[2] She continued hitting him and threatened to cut him with the knife; Clayton pushed her into the chair again. Alice got up from the chair and swung the knife at Clayton, cutting him on his shoulder. She went to the bedroom, while Clayton remained in the living room. A few minutes later, Clayton went to the bedroom to get his church shoes, but Alice " came at [him] with that knife stabbing at [him], telling [him] to get out of her damn room." Clayton testified he tried a couple more times to get his shoes, and she kept running him out of the room. He sat down in the hallway outside of the bedroom and said, " you need to stop acting stupid." According to Clayton, Alice came out of the bedroom and started kicking and slapping him, and she " stuck" him in the side with the knife. Alice again went back into the bedroom and locked the door. Clayton again asked to come get his church shoes, and when Alice said he could not, he pushed the door all the way open, and " [t]he frame and everything came off," because Alice had slammed it so hard. Alice again came at Clayton with the knife. Clayton backed out of the room and then got the shotgun he had used the day before to shoot a snake. He then went back to the bedroom to " bluff" his way into getting his shoes. He testified:

When I walked in my bedroom, inside of my bedroom, when I walked in she come from around that bed with that knife drawn back up at me. I mean, I can see the white in her eyes. I mean, she had a look on her face. I mean, she didn't even look like my wife when I seen her. And she was coming up on me with that knife. . . . I ended up pulling the trigger. . . . And it was an accident what happened because I wasn't trying to shoot her.

[¶5] Clayton elaborated that he had never been cut or stabbed in the twenty years they were together. He stated, " I was scared. I was scared because she ain't never did this to me. . . . She came at me -- when she came at me[,] she had that knife drawn back." Clayton left the house, flagged down a patrol car, and said, " I'm the one you're looking for, . . . because I just shot ...


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