DONTE SHEPARD A/K/A DONTE MEVALONE SHEPARD A/K/A DONTE M. SHEPARD APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 09/22/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT, HON. JEFF
WEILL SR., TRIAL JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER
GEORGE T. HOLMES
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, ALICIA
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: ROBERT SHULER SMITH
GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ.
Shepard appeals his capital-murder conviction and life
sentence. We find no error and affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On November 17, 2013, at 9:33 p.m., Jackson police were
dispatched to a residence on Randall Street about a possible
shooting. The responding officer found the front door of the
residence open and Tony Brown lying just inside on the floor
of the living room bleeding, mortally wounded, and unable to
speak. Brown had called 911 himself and was holding money in
one hand and a cell phone in the other.
Brown passed away while ambulance attendants were preparing
him for transport. He had suffered nine gunshot wounds. One
projectile was recovered from Brown's abdomen during the
There was evidence of forced entry into Brown's house.
Burglar bars on one of the windows had been tampered with,
and the window was forced open. Additionally, a crowbar was
found on the hood of a car parked near the opened window, and
there were footprints on the hood of the car. The foot
impressions were insufficient for forensic comparison, and no
usable fingerprints were found on the crowbar.
Investigators found multiple spent .40-caliber shell casings
inside Brown's house in various rooms and bullet holes
throughout the house. Brown's bedroom was in disarray,
and drawers appeared to have been rifled through, indicating
On November 20, 2013, detectives with the Jackson Police
Department interviewed Willie Thomas, who was thirteen years
old at the time of the incident. In his recorded interview,
Thomas told the police that he was walking home from the
barbershop and was right by the pathway in front of
Brown's house when he heard gunshots. Thomas stated he
saw three guys, later identified as Shepard, Jordan Johnson,
and Lucious Perkins, running from the house.
Thomas stated that Johnson and Perkins ran through a field
and jumped a fence. Thomas heard the man identified as
Perkins say something about having to "get that
According to Thomas, Shepard initially ran, but then returned
to the scene. Thomas stated that before the police arrived,
Shepard was hiding near an abandoned house. Thomas explained
that Shepard was in the "cut" or
"look[-]through pathway" and was on the phone.
Thomas agreed that Shepard was "looking out" for
the other guys. After the police arrived on the scene,
Shepard came out.
Additionally, Thomas explained that Shepard knew Brown and
that Shepard had previously broken into Brown's house.
When Brown confronted Shepard about it, Brown and Shepard
exchanged verbal death threats. Thomas advised that the
confrontation occurred on the day of the shooting at 6:05
During the interview, Thomas was given photo lineups and
identified Shepard, Johnson, and Perkins as the three men he
saw the night of the shooting. Thomas advised that Johnson
and Perkins were in Brown's house, but Shepard was
outside, on the phone, "looking out." Thomas wrote
on the photo lineups and identified which man was the
shooter. Specifically, Thomas wrote, "this man was
sho[o]ting at him, " and "this man was sho[o]ting
the man [in] the back."
Based on Thomas's recorded statement, Shepard, Johnson,
and Perkins were arrested. Two .40-caliber semiautomatic
pistols were recovered from Johnson's house. A ballistics
comparison was conducted, which showed that projectiles
recovered from Brown's house and the autopsy were fired
from one of the pistols in Johnson's possession.
Shepard, Johnson, and Perkins were subsequently indicted on
the charge of capital murder. The indictment charged Shepard
[O]n or about November 17, 2013[, ] while acting in concert
with and/or aiding, abetting, assisting[, ] or encouraging
another or others, [Shepard] did willfully, unlawfully, and
feloniously kill Tony Brown, a human being, without the
authority of law, with or without any design to effect death
while and when engaged in the commission of the crime of
burglary of a dwelling, or any attempt to commit such felony,
by shooting the said Tony Brown with a firearm, in
violation of Mississippi Code Annotated [section]
At trial, the State's key witness was Thomas. Thomas
testified that he was on the corner of Randall Street and
Martin Luther King Jr. Drive when he heard gunshots. He saw
three guys, including Shepard, who "was standing outside
watching out." Thomas stated that at the time of the
gunshots, Shepard was standing in the front of Brown's
house. The other two guys, Johnson and Perkins, ran out of
the house and went through the pathway near Brown's
On cross-examination, Thomas was asked to clarify whether he
saw Shepard hiding in an abandoned house close to the scene
of the crime. Thomas explained that it was not an abandoned
house, but two abandoned buildings that were close together
with "a little space open." Thomas stated he saw
Shepard on the street between the abandoned buildings and
that Shepard was on the phone. Thomas further stated no one
could see Shepard because the buildings were so close
together. Thomas testified that when the police arrived,
Shepard walked past the police, spoke to one of the officers,
and then left.
During Thomas's cross-examination, defense counsel played
portions of Thomas's recorded interview with the police.
Thomas acknowledged that it was his cousin who told him that
Shepard had previously broken into Brown's house and had
exchanged death threats with Brown. Thomas admitted that he
did not actually hear Brown and Shepard exchange threats.
Regarding the photo lineups, Thomas testified that despite
his notations, he did not see who shot Brown. Thomas
acknowledged that what he wrote on the photo lineups
"wasn't exactly the truth." Defense counsel
then asked whether there was anything else that Thomas needed
to clarify, to which Thomas replied, "no, sir."
On redirect, Thomas was adamant that at the time he heard
gunshots, he saw Shepard standing by the abandoned buildings,
"looking out." Thomas testified that following the
shooting, Shepard "stayed, then he left, then he came
back to the scene."
Detective Daryl Owens with the Jackson Police Department
testified that he observed Shepard at the scene of the crime,
standing around after the shooting. Detective Owens explained
that in his experience as a ...