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Battle v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 17, 2018

JOHN BATTLE, JR. A/K/A JOHN BATTLE A/K/A JOHN WESTLEY BATTLE, JR. APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/12/2016

          COAHOMA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. ALBERT B. SMITH III

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: AZKI SHAH

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

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: BRENDA FAY MITCHELL

          BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., CARLTON AND WILSON, JJ.

          WILSON, J.

         ¶1. John Battle was convicted of deliberate design murder and sentenced to life imprisonment following a jury trial in the Coahoma County Circuit Court. On appeal, Battle argues that there is insufficient evidence to support the conviction, that the jury's verdict is against the overwhelming weight of the evidence, and that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. We find no error and affirm Battle's conviction and sentence. We decline to address his ineffective assistance claim because the record is not sufficient to address the claim on direct appeal.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Around 9 p.m. on March 27, 2012, Patrick Williams and his girlfriend, Tanedra Christian, were sitting on the porch of Christian's home in Jonestown in Coahoma County. A white car, later identified as belonging to Clyde Chatman Jr., drove past Christian's house, turned around, and drove by again. Chatman had bought Christian gifts in the past, and she knew that he was interested in her romantically. Christian testified that Williams watched the car drive by, stood up, and walked toward the street. Williams then said, "[T]hey won't stop playing with me." After the car passed by, Williams left Christian's porch and began walking toward his home nearby. As Christian started to walk back inside her home, she heard gunshots. She ran inside and told her sister to go look for Williams. Christian did not see who fired the shots and had not seen anyone nearby except for the white car.

         ¶3. Byron and Toshemah Cosby own a nearby gas station. They heard the gunshots, but they did not go outside immediately because customers were waiting on them. When they went outside a few minutes later, they found Williams lying on the ground. Toshemah testified that Williams called to her for help and said that "those motherfuckers from Friars Point" had shot him. Williams had been shot three times in the back. He died at the scene a few minutes later.

         ¶4. Deputy Myette Dawson of the Coahoma County Sheriff's Department testified that within about an hour he had received tips identifying Chatman, Battle, and Reginald Cox as potential suspects.[1] All three were brought in for questioning, and Dawson obtained gunshot residue samples from each man.

         ¶5. Chief Deputy Fernando Bee testified that prior to Williams's murder, he saw Chatman driving his white Crown Victoria in Jonestown. Bee initially testified that he thought he saw Chatman around 6 p.m., but he later acknowledged that he was uncertain of the time and that it could have been later. Bee could see two more people inside Chatman's car, but he could not identify them. Bee knew that Chatman was from Friars Point, and he wondered what he was doing driving around Jonestown. Later that evening, Bee heard gunshots, and someone flagged him down near the gas station where Williams had been shot. Williams had lost consciousness by the time Bee arrived.

         ¶6. After Battle was arrested, he asked to speak to Bee. Bee testified that he gave Battle a Miranda warning, and Battle then gave a voluntary statement. According to Bee, Battle admitted that he was in a car in Jonestown with Chatman and Cox on the night that Williams was killed. Battle claimed that Williams reached inside their car and hit Chatman. Battle then "heard a gunshot, " and Williams ran away. Battle admitted that he then "reached out of the car and . . . took a couple of shots at Williams" as Williams fled. Battle stated that he, Chatman, and Cox then drove back to Friars Point, and he tossed the gun into a field along the way. ...


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