OF JUDGMENT: 09/23/2016
FROM WHICH APPEALED: JEFFERSON DAVIS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. CLAIBORNE MCDONALD
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: TAMEKIA ROCHELLE GOLIDAY
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
KAYLYN HAVRILLA MCCLINTON
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: HALDON J. KITTRELL
LEE, C.J., CARLTON AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.
Eric Lott was indicted for the murder of Adrian
Eley. A jury in the Jefferson Davis County
Circuit Court convicted Lott of manslaughter. Lott was
sentenced to serve twenty years in the custody of the
Mississippi Department of Corrections. The trial judge denied
Lott's posttrial motions. Lott now appeals, asserting the
following issues: (1) his trial counsel provided ineffective
assistance; (2) one of the State's witnesses was not
qualified to testify under Mississippi Rule of Evidence 702;
and (3) the trial judge failed to be impartial by improperly
assisting the State during the trial. Finding no error, we
Just after midnight on June 9, 2015, Lott admittedly shot
Eley while the two were arguing in the parking lot of the
Palmetto Apartments in Jefferson Davis County, Mississippi.
Eley was transported to a local hospital but died from
multiple gunshot wounds. According to Lott, Eley had been
threatening him for several weeks, accusing Lott of having an
affair with Eley's longterm girlfriend, Konswaylo Durr.
Durr testified that she and Eley had been fighting in the
days leading up to his death. A few nights prior to June 9,
Durr and Lott had been at a local gas station when Eley
arrived. According to Durr, Eley accused the two of having an
affair. Durr said Lott asked Eley to go outside and discuss
the situation. The situation deteriorated such that Durr
retrieved Lott's gun from his car and shot Eley's
car. Durr testified that she did so to scare Eley and to
retaliate for him stealing her belongings. Eley left the
area, and Durr went home.
The night before Eley's death, Durr testified that she
became angry with Eley and asked him to leave their house.
Durr had learned that Eley was going to have a child with
another woman. At one point Eley tried to sneak back in the
house by removing a bedroom air-conditioner unit, but Durr
stabbed his hand to prevent his entrance. Durr gave Eley a
towel and water for his injured hand, then she left their
house. Ultimately, Eley followed Durr to the Palmetto
Apartments, where Durr happened to see Lott. She pulled her
car beside Lott's car, and the two began talking.
According to Durr, Eley walked toward them and began yelling
at Durr and Lott, accusing them of having an affair. Eley
also grabbed Lott's cell phone. At some point, Eley and
Lott were standing on the sidewalk outside the apartment
complex talking to Durr, who was still in her car. Durr
testified that both she and Lott were explaining to Eley that
they were only friends. Durr stated, "[Lott] was mad and
slammed in front of my car, saying, 'Man, keep my name
out of your mouth. I told you I'm not f---ing your
b----.'" Durr said Eley replied, "Well, man,
I'm just asking." Durr testified Lott walked toward
his car and then walked back with his arm behind his back.
Durr stated Eley started running, then Lott began firing at
Eley. Durr said Eley was unarmed. Durr further testified that
she never heard Eley threaten Lott. Durr was unaware that
Eley had previously confronted Lott about their relationship.
Lott remembered the events leading up to Eley's death
differently. He testified that Eley had been harassing him
for several weeks about his relationship with Durr. Lott
stated he told Investigator Charles Johnson with the
Jefferson Davis County Sheriff's Department that Eley was
threatening him. Investigator Johnson testified that Lott
told him someone was threatening him, but Lott did not give
him a specific name, and without a specific name, he could
not help Lott. Lott testified that the day before Eley's
death, Eley came to Lott's parent's house looking for
him. According to Lott, Eley thought Durr was with him. Lott
stated that he wanted to resolve the situation. When Eley
arrived, Lott testified that they did discuss the situation,
with Lott reiterating that he and Durr were just friends.
Lott said he felt frustrated and cut the conversation short.
Both men left the house, and Lott drove to the apartment
complex. Lott stated that he then received a text from Durr,
indicating that Eley said Lott was afraid to come over.
When he saw Eley at the apartment complex on the night of
June 9, Lott said Eley did grab his phone but also hit him in
the chest. Lott stated that he was concerned for his safety
since Eley weighed about fifty pounds more than he did and
was known for his aggressive behavior. Lott further testified
that Eley kept shoving him and yelling at him. Lott attempted
to get in his car and leave, but Eley followed him. Lott
grabbed his gun, which had been laying on the driver's
seat, then shot Eley at least six or seven times. He fled the
scene, claiming that he did not know if he had shot Eley.
Lott later turned himself in to the Jefferson Davis County
Sheriff's Department, where he was read his
Miranda rights. He was then interviewed by
Investigator Jeff Toler, Investigator Johnson, and Master
Sergeant Leo Clemons of the Mississippi Bureau of
Investigator Toler testified that Lott admitted to shooting
Eley, but that he did so in self-defense. Master Sergeant
Clemons testified that Lott admitted to shooting Eley. Master
Sergeant Clemons stated Lott told him that Eley was not armed
at the time of the shooting. Master Sergeant Clemons further
stated Lott did not mention that Eley had previously
threatened him with bodily harm, only that Eley had accused
him of having an affair with Durr. Lott told the police that
he believed Eley and Durr had concocted a plot against him.
During questioning, Lott stated that Eley was standing close
to him and yelling at his face. Lott said he panicked and
tried to walk away, but Eley followed. Master Sergeant
Clemons then asked Lott what happened while Lott was reaching
for his gun. Lott replied, "When [Eley] seen me reach
for my [gun], you know what I'm saying, it was too late.
. . . I'm threatened now. I'm scared."
Dr. John Davis, deputy chief medical examiner for the State
of Mississippi, performed the autopsy on Eley. Dr. Davis
stated that Eley received four gunshot wounds. One gunshot
wound was in Eley's upper chest. Dr. Davis noted the
bullet entered Eley's back, but he could not locate the
exit wound on Eley's chest, most likely due to surgical
intervention prior to Eley's death. Eley had two gunshot
wounds to his left leg. One entered his left buttock and
exited through the outside of Eley's left thigh. The
other bullet entered the inside of Eley's left thigh and
exited on the back of his left thigh. Another bullet entered