JEFFREY PEYTON HORN A/K/A JEFFERY HORN A/K/A JEFFERY P. HORN A/K/A JEP HORN APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 05/22/2017
CHICKASAW COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. JOHN KELLY LUTHER TRIAL
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: EDWARD D. LANCASTER
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
ABBIE EASON KOONCE
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: BENJAMIN F. CREEKMORE
LEE, C.J., BARNES AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.
A Chickasaw County jury convicted Jeffrey Horn of aggravated
assault with a deadly weapon; specifically, shooting his
girlfriend in the thigh during a domestic altercation. The
trial-court judge sentenced Horn to serve twenty years in the
custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with
eight years suspended, twelve years to serve, and five years
of postrelease supervision. He was also ordered to pay court
costs, medical expenses, and restitution.
Horn appeals, arguing the trial court erred in not removing a
"sleeping juror" from the jury panel and in
granting a pre-arming jury instruction. Horn also argues a
judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or,
alternatively, a new trial, should have been granted due to a
juror's relationship with the victim. Finally, Horn
argues cumulative error warrants reversal. We find no merit
to Horn's arguments and affirm his conviction and
The shooting in this case stems from a relationship Horn had
with the victim, Regenia Higginbotham. They began seeing each
other in September 2014. Horn maintains their relationship
was turbulent and mainly sexual, while Regenia claims they
did not argue much and that she "truly loved" him.
It was undisputed, however, that Regenia was frustrated
because she wanted a more committed relationship than Horn
was willing to offer and that Horn had a drinking problem.
Regenia claims their first physical altercation occurred at
Horn's home in Houston, Mississippi, in November 2014,
approximately four months before the instant assault. Horn
claimed Regenia knew he was seeing other women, but she was
in "constant contact" with him by telephone, text,
or visits. Regenia had not seen Horn in a few days and
decided to drive to his house and "check on him"
unannounced. When Regenia knocked on the window of the
utility-room door, Horn was inside entertaining a woman named
Chelsea. Horn answered the door but was reluctant to let
Regenia in. A scuffle ensued as Regenia attempted to come
inside the house. According to Regenia, Horn grabbed her by
the hair and placed her in a "choke-hold"; so, she
took a broken window-pane glass shard and stabbed him in the
ankle. According to Horn, Regenia went running through the
house in an "absolute rage" screaming "where
is she at, Jep?" Bleeding profusely, Horn walked through
the house yelling at Regenia. He retrieved a nine-millimeter
gun that was kept hidden under the mattress in his bedroom.
Regenia-a nurse-satisfied no other woman was at Horn's
house,  calmed down and began tending to
Horn's wound. Regenia began cleaning the blood from the
floors with peroxide. Horn, angry, called 911. Horn told her
she could leave before law enforcement arrived, but she
declined. Law enforcement arrived and, unbeknownst to Horn,
saw him holding a gun over Regenia's head while she
cleaned the floor. Regenia was arrested for simple assault,
but Horn later dropped the charges because Regenia would lose
her nursing license. He claims Regenia called him four days
later wanting to reconcile, but he adamantly declined.
However, in early 2015, the couple began communicating with
each other again. By February, Horn stated they were having
sex in his used-car business office, located in front of his
house, several times a week during the lunch hour. On March
12, 2015, the sex- and alcohol-filled weekend that led to the
instant assault began when, according to Regenia, Horn called
and told her "to get her butt over [to his house]."
Regenia complied. Both claimed to enjoy riding around the
back roads of the area "looking at nature and
stuff." Regenia would drive while Horn would drink. On
this day, they took a long drive. Horn was drinking, but they
were not arguing. According to Horn, they "had a lot of
sex" that evening.
Horn testified the next day Regenia began
"hammer[ing]" him "constantly" about a
more exclusive relationship. They had "more sex"
and drove around. Horn was drinking heavily. That afternoon,
they ended up at "The Pony," a strip club in West
Point, Mississippi. Regenia became irritated because Horn was
frequently going to "the back" to enjoy lap dances.
Later in the evening, Horn was removed from the strip club
for slapping a dancer's buttocks during a lap dance. On
the drive home, Horn testified that Regenia, apparently
jealous from the lap dances, "just out of the blue . . .
tore me up" with her fingernails while she was driving.
Regenia testified that Horn was the one who was angry-he was
yelling and hitting the dash of the car while hitting and
biting her right arm. Regenia admitted grabbing his face to
make him quit hitting her. Photographs of Regenia's
heavily bruised right arm and Horn's scratched face were
entered into evidence. They returned to his home and calmed
down. Later, Horn admitted to Regenia he did not remember
hitting her arm in the car when she showed him her bruised
On the morning of March 14, 2015, they woke up, had sex, and
drove around back roads again until 8:00 p.m. According to
Regenia, that day Horn consumed two pints of vodka, one-half
of a case of beer, and approximately four Lime-a-ritas.
According to Horn, Regenia had been "hammering" him
more about "being together." Regenia testified that
during a stop at the Dollar General store, Horn became
paranoid that people were "coming after" him.
Embarrassed, Regenia "fussed" at Horn about the
incident. Horn became angry and told Regenia he was going to
"whoop her butt" when they got home. Later, Horn
admitted he did not remember going to the Dollar General
Upon arriving at Horn's house, Regenia said Horn suddenly
pulled a gun on her from behind his back and pointed it at
her. Initially, she headed toward the bathroom thinking she
could escape from him there, but she realized he could shoot
the door open and she would be trapped. Remembering there was
a gun underneath the mattress in Horn's bedroom, she ran
there instead. Regenia was uncertain if Horn was following
her, but as she lifted the mattress she heard him at the
doorway to the bedroom. The next thing Regenia knew she was
shot in the thigh, and fell to the ground.
Horn's version of the shooting differed. Regenia was
angry about the state of their relationship when they
returned home. Horn was drinking a beer and smoking a
cigarette in the utility room when Regenia entered, talking
about "the same thing"-a more serious relationship.
He told her "that's not what I want." Horn
testified: "She quits talking. I see her. She opens the
door. She walks into it, walks into the house, shuts the door
like normal, and she takes off running." Describing her
demeanor, Horn testified, "She's getting mad. . . .
She actually puffs up . . . but when she took off running, I
knew where she was going . . . to get that gun." He
When I see her take off running, I get up; and I get my
pistol; and I go into the house; and as I'm going into
the house, I can see she made it through the dining area; and
I see her turn down the hall. I follow her . . . I'm
walking down the hall fast; but as I get to where you can
actually see into the bedroom, probably . . . 6 or 7 feet
before you actually get to the door frame, I mean she's
right there. She's getting the gun. As I walk up to the
door, she's got her back to me. She turns around, and
she's pointing it directly at my head. I try to take
cover. . . . I put mine on her. She's got the craziest
look. . . . When I see those eyes, I actually lunge; and I
shoot her. . . . I shoot her right in the middle.
later testified "I popped her" because "she
[was] fixing to kill me."
The bullet actually struck Regenia's left thigh. She
collapsed in pain, dropping the pistol. Horn picked it up and
put both guns on top of the washing machine in the utility
room. Horn claimed he called 911 within seconds; Regenia
claimed it was more like fifteen to thirty minutes. A
recording of the 911 call, placed at 9:40 p.m. on March 14,
2015, was played for the jury and entered into evidence. Horn
admitted a "woman's been shot," but was
reluctant to give his name. He also exclaimed to Regenia
"Do you not fu--ing see what you're doing to
me?" He told the ambulance dispatcher that he had shot
Regenia "in the gut." When asked if it was an
accident he replied, "Well, I mean I wouldn't say
that." Due to the bullet wound, Regenia's leg bone
was shattered, and required two surgeries to insert a plate,
rod, seven screws, and a wire into her thigh.
Horn was arrested and, once sober two days later, was
interviewed by law enforcement. Horn admitted he meant to
shoot Regenia in the leg to stop her, not her
"gut." Horn maintained, however, that Regenia was
"fixing to kill" him with the loaded