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Bradley v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 25, 2017

STANLEY LEE BRADLEY A/K/A STANLEY BRADLEY APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/23/2015

         COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: FORREST COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. ROBERT B. HELFRICH TRIAL JUDGE.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: ERIN ELIZABETH BRIGGS.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: BARBARA WAKELAND BYRD.

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ.

          BARNES, J.

         ¶1. A jury sitting before the Forrest County Circuit Court found Stanley Lee Bradley guilty of aggravated assault. Bradley appeals, claiming the jury's verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence. He also claims that the prosecution made an improper "send a message" closing argument. Finding no error, we affirm.

         STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. As of mid-February 2014, Bradley and Cassandra Baker had been dating for seven years. Cassandra's brother, David Baker, had been living with them for approximately one month. On February 15, 2014, a number of people visited their house to celebrate Cassandra's birthday. After everyone else left at approximately 9 p.m., Cassandra and David rested on separate couches in the living room. Bradley was not ready to end the evening. Although he had been drinking, Bradley left to drive around and visit some friends. Bradley told Cassandra that he would "be right back."

         ¶3. Bradley "ended up at [Cassandra's] sister's house, " where he continued to drink until he fell asleep on the couch. When he woke up "after two o' clock, " he had a number of missed calls from Cassandra. Cassandra called him again while he was driving home. Bradley answered and explained that he was on his way home from her sister's house. Cassandra hung up. When she called again, he did not answer because he was nearly home. After parking and listening to music for "maybe three to five minutes, " Bradley went inside.

         ¶4. It is undisputed that Bradley and David got into a fight. It is also undisputed that Bradley stabbed David multiple times with a pocketknife. Other necessary details will be discussed below. David went to the hospital, where he was treated for one stab wound to his lower side[1] and four stab wounds to his upper back. Bradley was arrested and subsequently charged with aggravated assault. At trial, the prosecution called David, Cassandra, and the police officer who responded to Bradley's 911 call from a neighbor's house. Bradley chose to testify after the prosecution rested its case-in-chief. Ultimately, the jury found Bradley guilty, and the circuit judge sentenced him to twenty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Bradley appeals.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Whether the verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence.

         ¶5. Bradley argues that the circuit court erred when it denied his motion for a new trial, because the jury's verdict is contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. An appellate court "will only disturb a verdict when it is so contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence that to allow it to stand would sanction an unconscionable injustice." Bush v. State, 895 So.2d 836, 844 (ΒΆ18) (Miss. 2005). We must "view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, " and we must ...


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