JAIRUS COLLINS A/K/A JAIRUS J. COLLINS A/K/A JAIRUS JIDON COLLINS A/K/A JARIUS COLLINS A/K/A JARIUS J. COLLINS APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 05/12/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. ROBERT B. HELFRICH
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: MICHAEL ADELMAN
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
LAURA HOGAN TEDDER
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: PATRICIA A. THOMAS BURCHELL
IRVING, P.J., BARNES AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.
Jairus Collins was retried for the murder of Ebony Jenkins on
May 10-12, 2016, in the Circuit Court of Forrest County.
Collins was found guilty and sentenced as a habitual offender
under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-83 (Rev. 2015)
to life without parole in the custody of the Mississippi
Department of Corrections (MDOC). Aggrieved, Collins filed a
motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or,
in the alternative, a new trial, which the circuit court
denied by order. Collins timely appeals. After review of the
record, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In December 2011, Jenkins's body was discovered behind
the Mississippi Children's Home Services Care School in
Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Collins was later identified as a
suspect in Jenkins's murder and arrested. In November
2012, a Forrest County grand jury indicted Collins as a
habitual offender for Jenkins's murder and possession of
a weapon by a convicted felon. The circuit court granted
Collins's motion to sever the charges in his indictment.
After a trial on the murder charge, Collins was convicted in
the Forrest County Circuit Court and appealed his conviction.
This Court affirmed Collins's conviction. However, in
August 2015, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed
Collins's conviction and remanded for a new
Collins was retried on the murder charge on May 10-11, 2016,
in the Forrest County Circuit Court. He was convicted of
murder and sentenced as a habitual offender to serve life
without eligibility for parole in the custody of the MDOC.
Collins filed a motion for a JNOV or, in the alternative, a
new trial. The circuit court denied the motion by order in
July 2016. Collins timely appeals.
Whether the verdict is against the overwhelming
weight of the evidence.
Collins argues that the circuit court improperly denied his
requests for a directed verdict and JNOV. "Because
motions for directed verdicts and JNOV motions require
consideration of the evidence before the court when made,
this Court properly reviews the ruling on the last occasion
the challenge was made in the trial court." Shipp v.
State, 847 So. 2d 806, 811 (¶20) (Miss. 2003)
(citation and internal quotations omitted). Here, it is the
denial of Collins's JNOV motion or, in the alternative, a
new trial that was made last.
However, we find that Collins combined his arguments
regarding the legal sufficiency of the evidence with his
argument regarding the overwhelming weight of the evidence.
We will address each issue separately.
Sufficiency of Evidence
"A motion for a JNOV tests the sufficiency of the
evidence." Crowell v. State, 93 So. 3d');">193 So. 3d 706');">93 So. 3d');">193 So. 3d 706,
710 (¶13) (Miss. Ct. App. 2016) (citation omitted).
"When addressing the legal sufficiency of [the]
evidence, we consider all evidence in the light most
favorable to the State." Id. (citing Bush
v. State, 895 So. 2d 836');">895 So. 2d 836, 843 (¶16) (Miss. 2005)
(abrogated on other grounds)).
Collins asserts that there was insufficient evidence to
establish that he committed the crime, and that the State
failed to establish he was in possession of the gun. However,
this Court has held that the fact that "the only
evidence supporting [a] conviction is circumstantial does not
mean the evidence is insufficient." Goldsmith v.
State, 195 So. 3d 207, 213 (¶24) (Miss. Ct. App.
2016). "The Mississippi Supreme Court has consistently
held that the State may prove a crime solely by
circumstantial evidence." Id.
Collins was convicted of deliberate-design murder under
Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-3-19(1)(a) (Rev. 2014),
(1) The killing of a human being without the authority of law
by any means or in any manner shall be murder in ...