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Davis v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 2, 2015

KEITH ALLEN DAVIS, SR. A/K/A KEITH DAVIS, SR., APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: CLARKE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/25/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ROBERT WALTER BAILEY. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: CONVICTED OF MURDER AND SENTENCED TO LIFE IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS.

AFFIRMED.

FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER, BY: BENJAMIN ALLEN SUBER.

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

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

Page 538

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

CARLTON, J.

[¶1] A Harrison County jury convicted Keith Davis of deliberate-design murder. See Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-19(1)(a) (Rev. 2006). Davis now appeals his conviction and raises the following issues: (1) whether there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict; and (2) whether the jury's verdict is against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Finding no error, we affirm.

FACTS

[¶2] A Clarke County grand jury indicted Davis for the murder " and, if not this greater crime, then the lesser crime of" the manslaughter of Nathan Baker. Davis filed a motion with the Clarke County Circuit Court for a change of venue. The circuit court granted Davis's motion and transferred his trial to the Harrison County Circuit Court.

[¶3] During the trial, the jury heard testimony that, due to Davis's failure to pay his power bill, an employee from East Mississippi Electric Power Association (EMEPA) arrived at his home on Friday, June 22, 2012, to turn off the power. After speaking with Davis and his wife, the EMEPA employee advised the couple to call the EMEPA office and to request additional time to pay their bill. The EMEPA employee who spoke to the couple over the telephone informed them that they could have until the following Monday to pay their bill.

[¶4] Over the weekend, Davis and his wife made several phone calls to friends and family but were unable to collect the $185 they needed to pay their power bill. On the afternoon of Monday, June 25, 2012, Baker arrived at Davis's home to

Page 539

either collect the balance owed on the power bill or to turn off the power. Davis asked Baker for more time to pay the bill and explained that his son had asthma and needed power to use his breathing pump. Despite Davis's pleas, Baker insisted that he had to turn the power off until the bill was paid. Following Baker's refusal to extend the payment deadline, Davis retrieved the gun he owned and shot and killed Baker. Davis then moved Baker's EMEPA truck a few miles down the road and hid Baker's body on the property where his grandparents had lived.

[¶5] During the police investigation that followed, the police questioned Davis regarding Baker's disappearance. Davis eventually made three separate pretrial statements to the police. As the record reflects, each statement varied as to the exact sequence of events leading to Baker's death, but in all three statements, Davis admitted that he killed Baker, moved Baker's truck, and hid Baker's body.

[¶6] On Tuesday, June 26, 2012, the day after Baker's murder, Davis gave his first pretrial statement to police. Davis stated that he hit Baker when Baker tried to turn off the power. According to Davis, the two men " tussled," he hit Baker again, and Baker fell to the ground. Davis stated that he then retrieved his gun from inside the house, the two men fought over the gun, and the gun discharged at least twice, hitting Baker in his left side. Davis stated that Baker grabbed the gun, but Davis hit Baker, regained control of the gun, and hit Baker in the head with the gun. Davis asserted that Baker then bit him on his left arm, and Davis shot Baker once more. The next morning, Davis dug holes in his yard and burned his grass with gasoline to try to hide Baker's bloodstains.

[¶7] Almost a month later, on July 27, 2012, Davis gave his second pretrial statement to police. In this statement, Davis said that he told his wife that, no matter who EMEPA sent to their house on Monday, June 25, 2012, he would not allow that person to turn off the power. Davis stated that he retrieved his gun on Saturday and began firing it. Although Davis told his neighbor's child that he was using the gun for target practice, Davis also admitted in his statement that he wanted to see what impact the gun would have and how loud the noise would be.

[¶8] Davis stated that he awoke around 6 a.m. on Monday, June 25, 2012, and waited outside for the EMEPA employee to arrive. Davis told his children to turn up the volume on their video game and, no matter what they heard, to stay inside the house. He also said that he eventually went back inside to retrieve his gun, which he placed in a chair close to the power meter.

[¶9] According to Davis's statement, he shot Baker when Baker refused to extend the payment deadline. Davis stated that Baker then tried to grab the gun, and the two men wrestled for control of the weapon. Davis again stated that Baker bit him on his left arm, but Davis managed to regain control of the gun and shoot Baker in his left side. Davis then hit Baker in the head and face several times with the butt of the gun. Baker fell to the ground, and because the gun kept jamming, Davis grabbed a nearby shovel and hit Baker in the head. Davis said that, although Baker begged for his life, he shot Baker in the head.

[¶10] In a third pretrial statement to police, which was videotaped, Davis stated that he planned to ask the EMEPA employee who came to his house on Monday for an extension. However, if the EMEPA employee refused, Davis admitted that he was prepared to do ...


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