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Sanders v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

July 24, 2018

CHAD SANDERS A/K/A CHAD RAEL SANDERS A/K/A CHAD R. SANDERS APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/09/2016

          COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: PIKE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. DAVID H. STRONG JR.JUDGE:

          OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BENJAMIN A. SUBER, GEORGE T. HOLMES ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT:

          OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL KAYLYN HAVRILLA MCCLINTON ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE:

          DEE BATES DISTRICT ATTORNEY

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

          GRIFFIS, P.J.

         ¶1. Chad Sanders was convicted of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Sanders was sentenced to life for the first-degree murder charge and five years for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, with the sentences to run consecutively. He was ordered to pay a $7, 000 fine, restitution in the amount of $6, 500 to the Crime Victim's Compensation Fund, and all court costs.

         ¶2. Sanders subsequently filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) and a motion for a new trial, which the circuit court denied. Sanders now appeals and argues an insufficiency of the evidence and ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon review, we find no error and affirm.

         I. Sufficiency of the Evidence

         ¶3. Sanders first argues the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. "A motion for [a JNOV] implicates the sufficiency of the evidence." Lenoir v. State, 224 So.3d 85, 90 (¶18) (Miss. 2017). When reviewing a case for sufficiency of the evidence, "[t]his Court considers each element of the offense and reviews all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict." Id. "[We] must accept as true all credible evidence consistent with guilt" and "give the State the benefit of all favorable inferences that may reasonably be drawn from the evidence." Id. at 90-91 (¶18) (internal quotation mark omitted). "[We] may reverse only when, with respect to one or more of the elements of the offense charged, the evidence so considered is such that reasonable and fair-minded jurors could only find the accused not guilty." Id. at 91 (¶18) (internal quotation mark omitted). "Thus, if any rational trier of fact could have found each and every one of the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, when viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, the verdict must stand." Id.

         a. First-degree Murder

         ¶4. Sanders was convicted of the first-degree murder of Timothy Butler. First-degree murder is defined as "[t]he killing of a human being without the authority of law by any means or in any manner . . . [w]hen done with deliberate design to effect the death of the person killed, or of any human being." Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-19(1)(a) (Rev. 2017).

         ¶5. Sanders claims "the State failed to prove that [his] actions . . . cause[d] [Butler's] death." However, the trial testimony shows that two people, Andrew Barnes and Kevin Brown, witnessed Sanders shoot and kill Butler. Barnes testified that he heard multiple gunshots and saw Sanders shoot Butler. According to Barnes, prior to the shooting, Butler was outside of Sanders's house, leaning against a car, facing Sanders and talking to him. Barnes explained that Butler put his hands up defensively to shield himself from the bullets, but "was steady going down." Additionally, Brown testified that he heard multiple gunshots and saw Butler "scrambling for his life . . . trying to get away from [Sanders]." However, according to Brown, "[Sanders] was pursuing ...


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