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Shelton v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi

March 16, 2017

TAMESHIA SHELTON a/k/a MICKEY
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/17/2015

         CLAY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JAMES T. KITCHENS, JR.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: RODNEY A. RAY

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: LAURA H. TEDDER

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: RODNEY A. RAY MARK TYLER JACKSON JEFFREY J. HOSFORD.

          BEFORE WALLER, C.J., COLEMAN AND CHAMBERLIN, JJ.

          CHAMBERLIN, JUSTICE.

         ¶1. On July 17, 2015, a Clay County jury convicted Tameshia Shelton of the murder of Daniel Young. After the trial, Shelton filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or in the alternative for a new trial. The trial court denied the motion. Shelton now appeals three issues. First, Shelton challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. Second, Shelton claims that the verdict is against the weight of the evidence. Third, she alleges that the trial court erred by denying her requested two-theory jury instruction. Finding no error, we affirm Shelton's conviction.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Ketina Tutton-Tameshia Shelton's younger sister-lived in the Mhoon Valley Community of Clay County ("Mhoon Valley") near West Point, Mississippi, and Daniel Young lived in Forest, Mississippi. Tutton and Young maintained a long-distance, romantic relationship, and Young often would visit Tutton in Mhoon Valley. Because Tutton lived with her mother, who disapproved of the couple cohabiting before marriage, Tutton and Young would sometimes spend the night together at Shelton's nearby residence.

         ¶3. On Monday, October 12, 2009, Young arrived to visit Tutton for the week. Throughout the week, Tutton went to work at Sitel, Inc., in Starkville, Mississippi, and Young visited with Tutton's family.

         ¶4. On Friday, October 16, Young spent a large portion of the day at Shelton's house. He repaired her car, changed her oil, and worked on an old truck parked at Shelton's house. At some point in the day, Shelton's cousin asked to see Shelton's .22 caliber revolver. She showed him the handgun and then cleaned and oiled all six of its chambers. Late in the afternoon, Shelton cooked dinner, and Young ate with Shelton and Tutton's mother at Shelton's house.

         ¶5. Around 8:00 p.m., after running some errands, Tutton and Young returned to Tutton's house. While parked in the driveway, Tutton told Young that she was no longer planning to relocate to Meridian in the immediate future to be closer to Young as Sitel had hired her permanently. The couple had a heated discussion that lasted fifteen to twenty minutes before they exited the car. Tutton testified that there was no physical altercation between her and Young. After the discussion, Tutton walked toward the rear of her mother's house, and Young walked toward Shelton's house along the driveway that connected the two houses. Tutton entered her mother's house and watched television with her mother and a sister.

         ¶6. Sometime after Tutton saw Young walking toward Shelton's house, Shelton alleged that she heard a knock on her bedroom window.[1] Shelton claims that Young was at the window and asked her for her pistol in order to shoot a raccoon out of a tree. Young asked for just one bullet, but Shelton loaded six bullets into the handgun. Shelton claimed that she walked to the front room of the house and gave Young the handgun. She asked him to return and show her the raccoon once he had shot it.

         ¶7. Shelton claimed to have heard one shot shortly after Young left her house. She alleged that she searched for Young, calling his name. According to Shelton, she found Young ten to fifteen yards from the driveway, lying face-down in the grass under a large tree. She claimed that Young was grunting. Shelton immediately called 911 and remained on the phone until officers responded to the scene. She reported the incident to the 911 dispatcher as "an accidental shooting" and mentioned-several times-that Young had intended to shoot a raccoon.

         ¶8. Tutton-still at her mother's house-heard the gunshot but thought the sound was a firecracker exploding. It was not until a neighbor informed Tutton's mother of a shooting in Mhoon Valley that Tutton knew the sound had been a gunshot. Tutton drove to her sister's house on the back driveway because her sister owned a black Mustang car, and the neighbor said that it was mentioned on the police scanner. After looking in Shelton's house, Tutton saw Shelton standing in the road. Shelton told Tutton that Young had been shot. Tutton found Young in the grass and "went crazy." She screamed and pulled her hair and clothing. Tutton remembered hearing sirens shortly after this.

         ¶9. Deputy Cassandra Smith and Officer Torrey Williams ("Torrey"), [2] an auxiliary officer with Clay County, were the first responders to the scene. They saw Shelton standing in the middle of the road, pointing toward her house. Shelton was crying and appeared distressed. Smith followed Shelton up the driveway to where Young lay in the grass.

         ¶10. Smith testified that Shelton was hysterically screaming, "You're late. You're late. He's dead." Smith called out to Young and touched his back but felt no movement. Shelton began searching for the pistol, prompting Smith to ask her if Young had been shot. Shelton kept repeating, "I've got to find the gun." She told Smith that the gun was an heirloom and that she had "to find it." Smith saw the pistol on the ground and did not mention it to Shelton. Instead, Smith escorted Shelton away from Young and back toward the front of the trailer. Smith then instructed Torrey to call Officer Ramirez Williams ("Ramirez")[3] and inform him that she suspected that there had been a murder.

         ¶11. Smith said that Shelton remained hysterical and she noticed that Shelton was constantly wiping her hands on her baby's blanket as she held her baby. Torrey also testified that Shelton was upset and constantly wiping her hands together when she was in the trailer later that evening.

         ¶12. As Smith and Torrey began to cordon off the area around Young, Officer William Knowles responded to the scene. Knowles checked Young for a pulse but did not feel one. He then assisted the EMTs in turning Young over. The EMTs pronounced Young deceased, and Knowles took charge of Young's body and began a homicide investigation. Knowles noted the gunshot wound on Young's chest and discovered the handgun which lay below Young's feet.

         ¶13. Once Ramirez arrived at the scene, he examined Young's body and the position of the handgun. He then briefly interviewed Shelton. Ramirez testified that, after inspecting the scene and interviewing Shelton, "it just wasn't looking like an accidental shooting to me."

         ¶14. Next, Smith and Torrey escorted Shelton to the sheriff's department for a more detailed statement. Both officers testified that Shelton was calmer on the drive to the sheriff's department than earlier in the evening. On cross-examination, Torrey claimed that Shelton was no longer wiping her hands together, but on re-direct examination stated that Shelton was still wiping her hands together at the sheriff's department.

         ¶15. Meanwhile, after photos had been made of the scene, Knowles recovered the handgun. He unloaded five unfired live casings along with one empty casing. Also, Officer Brad Pettit placed paper bags over Young's hands to preserve evidence. Ramirez and the other officers also performed a grid search for other evidence in the vicinity of Young's body. They discovered evidence of a scuffle or altercation in the gravel driveway, five to ten ...


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