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Fairley v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 10, 2018

CHRIS ANDRE FAIRLEY A/K/A CHRIS FAIRLEY APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/08/2017

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

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: ERIN ELIZABETH BRIGGS

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: BARBARA WAKELAND BYRD

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: JOEL SMITH .

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND TINDELL, JJ.

          LEE, C.J.,

         ¶1. Chris Fairley was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. In this appeal, we must determine whether Fairley's right to confront a witness against him was violated and whether the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. It is undisputed that Fairley shot and killed his cousin, Mark Fairley, outside of a local shaved-ice stand in Biloxi, Mississippi, on July 15, 2015. Although Fairley claimed to have shot Mark in self-defense, a Harrison County Circuit Court jury found Fairley guilty of deliberate-design murder in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-3-19(1)(a) (Rev. 2014).

         ¶3. On the day in question, Fairley, his pregnant girlfriend, and their two minor children arrived at the shaved-ice stand. Fairley's girlfriend, MeShawn McCauley, exited the car to retrieve shaved ice for the family. Shortly after, Mark drove into the parking lot, parking near Fairley's car. According to Fairley, he and Mark had a strained relationship. Fairley testified that Mark had threatened to kill him in the past. Witnesses disagreed as to whether McCauley first confronted Mark or whether Mark first confronted both Fairley and McCauley. Regardless, after arguing, all three retreated to their respective cars. Mark got into his car and proceeded to back away, but exited his car and continued arguing with Fairley. At some point, Fairley reached into his car, grabbed a gun, and shot Mark.

         ¶4. Two eyewitnesses observed the shooting. One witness, Gary Gage, testified that he was sitting in his car at the shaved-ice stand when he saw Fairley and McCauley arguing with Mark. The other eyewitness, John Condon, was in a local gym that shared a parking lot with the shaved-ice stand. Both saw Fairley shoot Mark and continue to shoot Mark several more times as Mark turned back toward his car. Neither one saw a weapon in Mark's hands or thought Fairley was in any danger from Mark. Gage estimated that Fairley and Mark were standing approximately fifteen feet apart when Fairley fired the first shot.

         ¶5. Dr. Mark LeVaughn, chief medical examiner for the State of Mississippi, testified that Mark had been shot three times, with the fatal gunshot wound to Mark's head. Fairley objected to Dr. LeVaughn's testimony since Dr. LeVaughn had not performed the autopsy. The trial court overruled Fairley's objection.

         ¶6. According to testimony by police officers who responded to the scene, no weapon was found in Mark's car or on the ground near Mark's car. ...


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