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Dennis v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

November 27, 2018

CONWAY E. DENNIS A/K/A CONWAY EARL DENNIS A/K/A KC APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/01/2017

          FORREST COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. ROBERT B. HELFRICH TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: W. DANIEL HINCHCLIFF

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: LAURA H. TEDDER

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: PATRICIA A. THOMAS BURCHELL

          BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., WILSON AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.

          GRIFFIS, P.J.

         ¶1. Conway E. Dennis appeals his conviction of aggravated assault and argues the circuit court failed to properly instruct the jury regarding the elements of the crime. We find no error and affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. On the night of September 22, 2015, Jerome Wolfe was injured when he was run over by a minivan driven by Dennis. Dennis's girlfriend, Shayla Williams, once dated Wolfe, and the two were the parents of a daughter. Earlier that evening, Williams went to see Wolfe to pick up some money for their daughter. According to Wolfe, he and Williams were "intimate." While with Wolfe, Williams received a phone call from Dennis. Williams and Dennis began to argue, and Williams subsequently left Wolfe's apartment.

         ¶3. Shortly thereafter, Dennis and Williams returned to the apartment. Dennis was driving a blue minivan, and Williams was in the passenger seat. When Dennis and Williams arrived at the apartment, Wolfe and his friend Damien Dawkins were outside. Dennis parked the vehicle about ten feet from the apartment door, blocking the exit to the apartment complex. As Dennis exited the vehicle, he and Wolfe began to argue. A verbal altercation occurred with threats of a "one-on-one" fight.

         ¶4. As Wolfe was walking toward the street in preparation for a fight, he heard Dawkins yell. Wolfe turned around and saw Dennis in the minivan. Wolfe was standing behind the minivan and could see Dennis's eyes in the vehicle's side mirror. According to Wolfe, Dennis was looking directly at him. Dennis backed up the minivan and ran over Wolfe. Dennis then drove the minivan forward and, once again, backed over Wolfe. Dennis subsequently sped off. As a result of the incident, Wolfe suffered injuries including a broken hip, two sprained ankles, and an abrasion to his left ear.

         ¶5. Following the incident, Dennis was apprehended and interviewed by Detective Jeremy Dunaway with the Hattiesburg Police Department. Dennis provided a statement to Detective Dunaway. According to Dennis, when he arrived at the apartment, two men, one being Wolfe, approached the minivan. Dennis felt threatened and thought he was being "ambushed." As a result, Dennis proceeded to back up the vehicle in order to leave the apartment complex. Dennis stated he knew he had hit something but did not know that he had hit Wolfe.

         ¶6. At trial, Williams testified on behalf of Dennis. Williams denied that Dennis intended to hit Wolfe. When Williams told Dennis that he had hit Wolfe, Dennis responded, ...


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