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McCray v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

July 17, 2018

LA'DARRIAN MCCRAY A/K/A LADARRIAN A. MCCRAY A/K/A LADARRIAN MCCRAY A/K/A D.J. APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/07/2016

          HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. WILLIAM A. GOWAN JR. TRIAL JUDGE

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

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: SCOTT STUART

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: ROBERT SHULER SMITH

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

          LEE, C.J.

         ¶1. Following a jury trial in the Hinds County Circuit Court, La'Darrian "D.J." McCray was convicted of first-degree murder and attempted aggravated assault. McCray was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder conviction and twenty years for the aggravated-assault conviction, with the sentences ordered to run concurrently in the Mississippi Department of Corrections. In this direct appeal, McCray argues that he (1) received ineffective assistance of counsel, and (2) the trial court erred by denying his motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) with respect to the aggravated-assault conviction. Finding no reversible error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. In the early morning hours of October 17, 2014, Glentez Brown was shot several times and killed at his apartment complex in Jackson, Mississippi. At trial, Brown's wife, Ashley, testified that on the evening of the shooting, Brown was driving his cousin, Wesley Gray, home and then driving around their three-month-old infant son, trying to calm his crying and help him fall asleep. Ashley spoke to Brown on the phone and told him to come home because the baby was not falling asleep. A few minutes later, Ashley heard gunshots and went and looked out the window where she saw a man wearing a gray hoodie and dark jeans walk past her window with a gun in his right hand. She testified that she was able to see his face clearly, but she did not recognize or know him. Ashley saw that the couple's vehicle was present, indicating that Brown had returned with the baby. She also saw a silver truck fleeing the apartments.

         ¶3. Ashley opened her apartment door, which was located on the second floor, and heard her son screaming. She looked down the stairs and saw her husband and son lying on the ground covered in blood. Ashley went down to them, but went back upstairs to the apartment to let her daughter know her father had been shot, and to get her phone. She went back downstairs again to her husband and son and called 911. Ashley picked up her baby and checked Brown's pulse and then returned upstairs to call family members and friends. Ashley's neighbor, Latricia Dent, came out and offered to take the baby for her, and so Dent took the baby back to her own apartment.

         ¶4. Ashley called Brown's brother, Joseph, several times trying to get in touch with him. After five calls, she finally reached him by phone and told him that Brown was dead. Joseph, along with two of his friends, and his ex-girlfriend, Lezert "Pumpkin" Edwards, arrived at the apartment. At some point after Joseph and Edwards arrived, Ashley was in the ambulance while her son was being checked for injuries. The baby was not injured.

         ¶5. While in the ambulance with the baby, Ashley saw a man pass by outside the ambulance, and she asked Edwards, who was standing outside the doors of the ambulance, who the man was. Ashley testified that she asked who the man was because he was the same man she had seen pass by her apartment window with a gun immediately after hearing gunshots. The man was no longer wearing a hoodie and now had on glasses. Edwards replied that the man was "D.J." (McCray). Ashley later learned that McCray was friends with Joseph. Ashley admitted both during the investigation and at trial that Brown was a drug dealer, but denied that he was fighting or at odds with anyone. She also testified that she did not immediately report McCray as the man with a gun to the police at the scene for fear of her and her children's safety.

         ¶6. Dent, Ashley's neighbor, also testified at trial that she heard gunshots and went outside where she saw a man and a baby on the ground. She went back inside and awoke her brother, and he called 911. When Dent went back outside, she saw Ashley holding the baby and vomiting. Ashley handed Dent the baby, and Dent took the baby back into her apartment and kept him for Ashley. She examined the baby and described that he was covered with blood and a white meaty substance on his face, in his hair, mouth, and clothes, but that she saw no physical marks or injury to his body. She also ...


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