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Beasley v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

October 31, 2017

TIMOTHY SCOTT BEASLEY A/K/A TIMOTHY S. BEASLEY A/K/A TIMOTHY BEASLEY APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/05/2016

         HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. CHRISTOPHER LOUIS SCHMIDT TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: BENJAMIN ALLEN SUBER

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: JOSEPH SCOTT HEMLEBEN

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: JOEL SMITH

         EN BANC

          IRVING, P.J.

         ¶1. Following his convictions for burglary of a dwelling, aggravated stalking, and aggravated assault, Timothy Beasley appeals the judgment of the Harrison County Circuit Court denying his motion for a new trial, arguing that the jury's verdict is against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. In a separate pro se brief, Beasley alleges ineffective assistance of trial counsel.[1]

         ¶2. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS

         ¶3. This appeal stems from an incident that occurred on May 9, 2015, in Gulfport, Mississippi. Lori Ehlers, Beasley's girlfriend of ten to fifteen years, had an order of protection against him that included her home, her person, and both of her parents. While at dinner that night, Lori's mom, Elaine Ehlers, received text messages and a voice mail from Beasley stating that he was headed to Lori's home to "put down" a cat that the two had owned together. After receiving those messages, Lori, Elaine, and Vernon Ehlers, Lori's father, returned to Lori's home. Upon arriving, they did not notice anything out of the ordinary and proceeded inside. Lori had video surveillance at her home, and there is video footage of the three arriving. According to all three, Beasley jumped out of either the closet or the hallway with a knife in one hand and a pipe wrench in his other hand and stated something to the effect of, "now I can get all three of you."[2]

         ¶4. Vernon testified that, fearing for his family's safety, he hit Beasley over the head with a cat's scratching post as Beasley pushed Elaine to the ground. A struggle then ensued, and Beasley lost control of the knife, but was able to strike Vernon several times with the pipe wrench. Vernon stated that Elaine was able to get free and escaped through the front door but Beasley followed her. The surveillance footage showed Elaine leaving the property going in the direction of the neighbor's house, and Beasley exited shortly after, armed with a hammer. Vernon was then shown on the video going outside, but then he retreated back inside as Beasley came back to the home. Beasley can then be seen breaking the glass of the front door with the hammer. Afterward, Beasley left the scene, and the police arrived.

         ¶5. According to Officer Bradley Sumrall of the Gulfport Police Department, Vernon's head was soaked with blood, and he had sustained several injuries that required medical treatment. Beasley was arrested the following day.

         ¶6. In Beasley's taped interview with police, he stated that he was just trying to talk to the Ehlers in order to get some money that was owed to him, and to retrieve some of his personal property from Lori's home. He stated that he simply wanted to talk, and Vernon hit him first, which sparked the fight. He also stated that, because of the protection order against him and Lori's changing her cell phone number, the two communicated by exchanging messages via a storage unit and Lori's mailbox. During the interview, Beasley admitted that he entered Lori's home through an unlocked window[3] and that he was armed with a pipe wrench. Lori testified that Beasley did not have a key to her home and that she did not give him permission to enter.

         ¶7. Beasley was indicted for burglary of a dwelling, aggravated stalking, and aggravated assault. Beasley opted for a trial. During the trial, Lori, Vernon, Elaine, Officer Sumrall, and Investigator Alvin Kingston testified for the State. At the trial's conclusion, Beasley was convicted on all counts and sentenced as a habitual offender pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-81 (Rev. 2015) to twenty years for burglary, five years for aggravated stalking, and fifteen years for aggravated assault, with each sentence to be served concurrently in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), without the possibility of probation or parole.

         ¶8. Beasley filed a motion for a new trial or, in the alternative, a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), which was denied. This appeal followed.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Sufficiency and Weight of the Evidence

         ¶9. In challenging his convictions, Beasley erroneously combines arguments regarding the overwhelming weight of the evidence, his sole issue on appeal, with arguments that address the legal sufficiency of the evidence. As such, we address both arguments in this opinion. The standards of review when addressing weight of the evidence and legal sufficiency of the evidence are succinctly addressed by the Mississippi Supreme Court in Bush v. State, 895 So.2d 836 (Miss. 2005), abrogated in part on other grounds by Little ...


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