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Armstrong v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

October 23, 2018

BYRON ARMSTRONG A/K/A BYRON J. ARMSTRONG A/K/A BYRON JAMELL ARMSTRONG APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/16/2017

          PERRY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JON MARK WEATHERS JUDGE

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

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: KATY TAYLOR GERBER

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: PATRICIA A. THOMAS BURCHELL

          BEFORE IRVING, P.J., CARLTON AND GREENLEE, JJ.

          GREENLEE, J.

         ¶1. Byron Armstrong was convicted of murder and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Armstrong was sentenced as a violent habitual offender to two life-without-parole sentences, with the sentences to be served concurrently in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Finding no arguable issue for appeal, Armstrong's appellate counsel filed a brief pursuant to Lindsey v. State, 939 So.2d 743 (Miss. 2005). This Court gave Armstrong additional time to file a supplemental brief, which he has not done.

         FACTS

         ¶2. Armstrong admittedly killed James Hartfield but claimed he did so in necessary self- defense. Hartfield had confronted Armstrong about a drug sale that had occurred the previous day. Hartfield felt that Armstrong had not given him all of the pills for which he had paid. The confrontation occurred at Jerome McLeod's house. McLeod was Armstrong's grandfather, and Armstrong was living with him at the time. McLeod testified that he had seen Armstrong with a gun sometime during the week prior to Hartfield's death, but he did not see Armstrong with the gun on the day of Hartfield's death. When Hartfield arrived at the house, McLeod spoke with him, and Hartfield showed him a bag of pills. McLeod testified that he did not see Hartfield carrying a gun.

         ¶3. Andrew Krause testified that he drove Hartfield to McLeod's house to find Armstrong. Krause, waiting in the car, saw Hartfield knock on the door and then go around the side of McLeod's house. A few minutes later, Krause heard several gunshots. Krause left the scene and called the local authorities.

         ¶4. When the police arrived, they found Hartfield dead and the gun approximately ten to fifteen yards away. According to police, Armstrong stated that he threw the gun across the yard after the shooting. They also found a bag of pills and a cell phone under Hartfield's body. Hartfield had three gunshot wounds located in his neck, left arm, and right leg. The medical examiner described the gunshot wounds as "distant," or "beyond three and a half to four feet between the muzzle and the skin."

         ¶5. One of the responding officers testified that Armstrong said he got into an altercation with Hartfield, took Hartfield's gun, and as he was stumbling backward, shot Hartfield.

         ¶6. Armstrong's sister, "BW, "[1] who was ten years old at the time of the shooting, testified that she saw Armstrong and Hartfield fighting. She then saw Hartfield pull out a gun, Armstrong take ...


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