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Thompson v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 12, 2018

CHRISTOPHER LEE THOMPSON A/K/A CHRISTOPHER THOMPSON A/K/A CHRISTOPHER L. THOMPSON APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/19/2016

          COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: MONROE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JAMES SETH ANDREW POUNDS

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: LUANNE STARK THOMPSON TIFFANY LEIGH KILPATRICK

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

          BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES AND GREENLEE, JJ.

          GRIFFIS, P.J.

         ¶1. Christopher Lee Thompson was convicted of manslaughter in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-3-35 (Rev. 2014). On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a directed verdict pursuant to the Weathersby[1] rule. We find no error and affirm. FACTS

         ¶2. Around 5:30 a.m. on March 4, 2014, Thomas James called 911 and reported that he believed that his brother-in-law, Thompson, had killed someone. The dispatcher later testified that Thompson told James that "[Thompson] thought he killed [Thomas Harlow because] he had pushed his eyes into the back of his head." James gave the dispatcher Thompson's address, and authorities were dispatched. Deputy Wayne Wilbanks went to Thompson's house and questioned him. Meanwhile, Deputy Patrick Chism was dispatched to the scene of the crime at Harlow's sister's trailer. Upon his arrival, Deputy Chism entered the trailer and found Harlow's dead body. He was later joined by Investigator Brandon Davis.

         ¶3. Davis testified that the body was found in a bedroom where it was evident that Harlow had been badly beaten and an altercation had taken place. Harlow was "black and blue" and had blood running from his head and eyes. Potted plants had been overturned, and there was an overturned television on the ground near Harlow's body. After investigating the crime scene, Davis interviewed Thompson at the police station.

         ¶4. During the interview, Thompson said that he and his wife had been out drinking with Harlow until the early morning of March 4. After leaving a bar, the three went to Harlow's sister's trailer to continue drinking and listen to music. When Thompson suggested it was time to go home, Harlow offered to let Thompson and his wife sleep in a spare bedroom to avoid driving home drunk. Thompson agreed, and everyone went to sleep.

         ¶5. Thompson testified that at about 2:00 a.m., he was awoken by someone pulling off his underwear and performing oral sex. Thompson initially thought it was his wife, but he soon discovered that it was Harlow. It was undisputed that an altercation followed, but the precise events varied to some extent when Thompson relayed them to people.

         ¶6. Thompson's brother-in-law, James, encountered Thompson not long after the incident. According to James, "[Thompson] said he hit [Harlow]. They were scuffling. [Thompson] said he grabbed [Harlow's] head and shoved his thumbs in his eyes. [Thompson] picked up a TV and hit [Harlow] with it. And after that [Thompson] said he realized [Harlow] wasn't moving [anymore] and [Thompson and his wife] left." James stated that he told Thompson that they needed to call the police and have someone check on Harlow, but Thompson declined. James then secretly called 911 and the dispatcher sent officers to Thompson's house and ultimately to the scene of the crime at Harlow's sister's trailer.

         ¶7. Thompson's account to Wilbanks was slightly different. Thompson told Wilbanks that after Harlow woke him up, he started punching Harlow and screaming for his wife to turn on the lights. The lights came on and he heard Harlow fall on the floor. Thompson told Wilbanks he "thought he had knocked [Harlow] out because he heard [Harlow] moan." Thompson and his wife then left. Thompson did not mention the television or gouging Harlow's eyes.

         ¶8. During Davis's interview, Thompson said that when he discovered that it was Harlow who was performing oral sex, Thompson grabbed Harlow's hair and punched him three or four times and told his wife to turn on the light. Thompson stated that he and Harlow ended up on the floor and Thompson elbowed Harlow. By the time that Thompson's wife turned on the light, Harlow was knocked out, so Thompson and his wife left the scene. During the interview, Thompson denied hitting Harlow with anything other than his fists, including the overturned television set. He also stated that he did not believe that Harlow needed medical attention or that he had gouged Harlow's eyes. ...


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