OF JUDGMENT: 07/25/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ROBERT B. HELFRICH
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
MOLLIE MARIE MCMILLIN.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
KATY TAYLOR GERBER.
IRVING, P.J., FAIR AND GREENLEE, JJ.
James Clark was found guilty of second-degree murder and
aggravated assault. On appeal, he contends that he received
ineffective assistance of counsel and that the verdicts are
against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Finding no
error, we affirm.
On May 11, 2014, two men entered Patrick Snow's apartment
in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Snow was shot in the upper body
and taken to the hospital. Snow's friend, Matthew
Campbell, was shot in the forehead and died shortly after.
At the hospital, Snow told the police that two black males
forced themselves into his apartment and tried to rob him. He
described the intruders as possibly bald or having low
haircuts. The following day, he identified the suspects by
name to police.
Clark, along with Timothy Jordan and Jarvis Holder, were
indicted together in a three- count indictment for conspiracy
to commit murder, first-degree murder, and aggravated
assault. Jordan and Holder pled guilty and testified against
Clark in exchange for more lenient sentences.
At Clark's trial, there was conflicting evidence
presented about the shooting. Snow identified Holder and
Clark as the robbers. Snow also testified that Clark shot him
and Campbell. Holder testified that he and Clark went to rob
Snow, and that he fired a shotgun upon entering the
apartment. He also said that Clark shot Snow and Campbell.
Jordan's testimony differed from his past statements. He
initially told police that he got in a physical altercation
with Snow over drugs and that Holder did the shooting.
Lavivian Wilson, Jordan's sister, initially gave the
police the same statement as Jordan - that Holder shot Snow
and Campbell. But, like Jordan, she changed her story. At
trial, Lavivian testified that she heard about the shooting
on Facebook and confronted her brother. A couple of days
later, she went to Brookhaven on an errand, and Jordan and
Clark rode with her. Unknown to Lavivian, they were moving
the guns used in the shooting. Lavivian testified that Clark
admitted to shooting both victims. But, ultimately, there was
no physical evidence tying Clark, or anyone else, to either
During the jury instruction conference, Clark's attorney
requested a heat-of-passion manslaughter jury instruction,
which the court denied. The State submitted, and the court
granted, a jury instruction for second-degree murder. The
jury found Clark guilty of second-degree murder and
aggravated assault. The circuit court denied Clark's