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Boston v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi

September 7, 2017

KEVIN BOSTON a/k/a KEVIN E. BOSTON a/k/a KEVIN EARL BOSTON
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/24/2015

         WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. W. ASHLEY HINES TRIAL JUDGE

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: TAKIYAH HERMIONE PERKINS WILLIE DEWAYNE RICHARDSON BRANDON ISAAC DORSEY

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: BRANDON ISAAC DORSEY

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: BILLY L. GORE

          BEFORE WALLER, C.J., KING AND MAXWELL, JJ.

          WALLER, CHIEF JUSTICE.

         ¶1. Kevin Boston was convicted of capital murder in the Washington County Circuit Court for the killing of Willie Dean. Boston raises five issues on appeal, one of which is raised by Boston himself in a pro se supplemental brief. In that supplemental brief, Boston argues that the trial court erred by granting the State's "pre-arming instruction." Finding that the granting of the pre-arming instruction was reversible error, we reverse Boston's conviction and sentence and remand the case for a new trial.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. On May 13, 2014, Barbara Boston called her estranged husband, Kevin Boston, the defendant, to come fix the flat tire on her car parked at her place of employment, Trigg Elementary. Because the school was administering state testing, Barbara could not go outside to meet Boston, so she left the keys inside the car. When Boston arrived at Trigg Elementary, he was unable to fix the tire because the jack was bent. While walking to the main school office to inform Barbara he could not change her tire, Boston met the victim, Willie Dean.

         ¶3. Dean was a contract maintenance worker who reported for a work order at Trigg Elementary on the day in question. Additionally relevant, Dean and Barbara had a romantic relationship while Barbara was separated from Boston. However, Dean and Barbara previously had ended their relationship.

         ¶4. How the contact between Boston and Dean initiated and what happened during their confrontation are points of sharp dispute in the record. Boston contends he acted in self-defense; whereas, the State claims Boston attacked Dean. State's witness Abbie Allen, a bus driver for Greenville Public Schools, testified that Boston approached Dean first.[1] However, Boston claimed Dean first approached him. Boston testified that Dean was upset because he was in Barbara's car, possibly indicating to Dean that Boston and Barbara might have reconciled. Boston further testified that Dean yelled he was going to kill Boston and then attacked him with a pair of pliers, hitting Boston on his wrist. The State attempted to discredit Boston's testimony by offering into evidence a picture of Boston's wrist taken after his arrest, which showed no visible injuries. Moreover, no pliers ever were recovered from the scene.

         ¶5. Boston continued his testimony, explaining that after he pushed Dean off, Dean came running back toward him, at which point he fatally stabbed Dean once with a pocket knife. Boston testified he had purchased the pocket knife from Auto Zone a month before the incident. While the State did not present any direct evidence of what had caused the altercation between the parties, Abbie Allen testified that she saw Boston and Dean talking, and then they "got a little loud." No one saw the stabbing, though. After Dean was stabbed, the parties walked away from each other. The immediate aftermath of the stabbing was caught on the school's surveillance camera, but the footage does not show any physical or verbal altercation between the parties. After the incident, Rita Mobley, another employee of Trigg Elementary, testified that she found Dean standing in a doorway at the school, holding his chest and asking for someone to take him to the hospital. According to Mobley, Dean said, "[Kevin Boston] stabbed me for no reason." An ambulance took Dean to the hospital, where he died.

         ¶6. On March 11, 2015, a grand jury indicted Boston in the Circuit Court of Washington County for capital murder on educational property grounds. See Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-19(2)(g) (Supp. 2016) ("The killing of a human being without the authority of law by any means or in any manner shall be capital murder in the following cases: . . . Murder which is perpetrated on educational property as defined in Section 97-37-17[.]"). The case was tried on July 21-24, 2015, at the close of which the jury found Boston guilty. In Boston's appeal, his attorney raised issues concerning the weight and sufficiency of the evidence, as well as the denial of a proposed self-defense jury instruction.[2] Boston in his pro se supplemental brief asserted his objection to the ...


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