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Hare v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 20, 2017

MELVIN HARE APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/17/2015

         WARREN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, THON. ISADORE W. PATRICK JR. TRIAL JUDGE.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: W. DANIEL HINCHCLIFF.

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

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: RICHARD EARL SMITH JR.

          BEFORE IRVING, P.J., ISHEE AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.

          ISHEE, J.

         ¶1. Melvin Hare was convicted by a jury in the Warren County Circuit Court of depraved- heart murder, and sentenced to thirty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), with twenty-five years to serve and five years suspended, to be served under postrelease supervision. Hare brings three issues for our review: (1) whether he received ineffective assistance of counsel; (2) whether there was sufficient evidence to support the verdict; and (3) whether the verdict was contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. We find no error and affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. On August 26, 2013, Hare visited Lubertha Sims at her house. Hare and Sims had dated intermittently for approximately a year. Hare allegedly came by that evening to eat dinner with Sims. While Hare was at Sims's house, Roy Clark-Sims's ex- boyfriend-arrived and began to taunt Hare. Clark stood outside of Sims's home and repeatedly demanded that Hare come out of the house, telling him, "I'm going to whip you up." At first, Sims and Hare remained inside the house-with the screen door locked. But then Clark, a large man, ripped the screen door off, and came onto the porch.

         ¶3. Clark then turned and walked back into the yard as he continued to threaten Hare. Hare told Clark that he would leave the house, but Sims halted Hare, telling him that she had already called 911 and that the police were on their way. As Clark approached the door again, the two men became engaged in a physical altercation. The two tussled on the floor, and Hare pulled a knife from his pocket and began stabbing Clark multiple times. Sims was able to grab the knife and throw it out of the reach of both Hare and Clark. Both men then got up, and Clark went across the street and collapsed. Clark lay on the ground with his intestines protruding.

         ¶4. By the time police arrived on the scene, paramedics were attending to Clark. Clark was taken to River Region Hospital to be treated for multiple stab wounds. Dr. Brian Hudson, the emergency-room physician that treated Clark, testified at trial that when Clark arrived he had multiple stab wounds to his chest, back, and abdomen. Later, Clark was airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center. At this time, Clark was alive, but unconscious.

         ¶5. Dr. Mark LeVaughn, who conducted the autopsy of Clark's body, testified at trial as an expert witness. Dr. LeVaughn testified that Clark's body had possibly twenty-two separate stab wounds. He further testified that there were multiple stab wounds to Clark's back. Additionally, Dr. Levaughn found stab wounds on Clark's forearm and palm-wounds which Dr. LeVaughn characterized as defensive in nature.

         ¶6. When questioned by the investigator at the scene, Hare admitted to the investigator that he had stabbed Clark. Hare was originally charged with aggravated assault, but Clark died, and Hare was then charged with murder. At trial, Hare's defense was that he was afraid of Clark, and thus had acted in self-defense. The jury was given a depraved-heart-murder instruction, as well as a culpable-negligence-manslaughter instruction. Additionally, the jury was instructed on self-defense. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury found Hare guilty of depraved-heart ...


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