TIMOTHY OWENS A/K/A TIMOTHY OWENS JR. APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 06/07/2017
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT, HON. WINSTON
L. KIDD JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
GEORGE T. HOLMES
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
SCOTT STUART DISTRICT
ATTORNEY: ROBERT SHULER SMITH
IRVING, P.J., CARLTON AND FAIR, JJ.
Timothy Owens was convicted of first-degree murder and
sentenced to life in prison. Owens now appeals his conviction
and sentence, arguing the following assignments of error: (1)
the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction; (2)
Owens was prejudiced by ineffective assistance of counsel;
and (3) comments made by the State during closing arguments
constituted prosecutorial misconduct, thus rendering
Owens's trial unfair.
After reviewing the record, we find no error, and we affirm
the trial court's judgment.
On May 27, 2015, police officers from the Jackson Police
Department responded to a call about a shooting on Cox
Street. When the officers arrived, they discovered the
deceased body of Ruth Williams. After an investigation,
officers arrested Owens, who was in a romantic relationship
with Ruth and living with her at the time of the shooting,
and charged him with Ruth's murder.
Marcus Williams, Ruth's son, testified that at the time
of the shooting, he was living with his mother and Owens.
Marcus testified that his mother and Owens had been friends
for years before their relationship became intimate. Marcus
testified that on the evening of May 27, 2015, he arrived
home from work and went next door to do laundry. Marcus
testified that during this time, both Ruth and Owens were
home. Marcus said that when he returned home from doing
laundry, Ruth asked him to bring her a glass of water. Marcus
testified that he brought a glass of water to Ruth, who was
sitting in a recliner in her bedroom. Marcus stated that
Owens was also in the bedroom, lying on the bed. Marcus
testified that when he walked out of the bedroom, he looked
out of the corner of his eye and saw Owens get out off of the
bed and close the bedroom door. Marcus then heard Owens call
Ruth a "bitch." Ruth responded "I ain't no
bitch. The bitch who brought you here is down the
street," referring to Owens's mother.
Marcus stated that after exiting the bedroom, he walked past
the bathroom and toward the kitchen. Marcus stated that as he
passed the bathroom, he heard gunshots. Marcus called out to
Ruth, and he heard Ruth call out his name in
response. Marcus then went to the bedroom, kicked
the door in, and saw Ruth on the floor by the recliner near
the foot of the bed. Marcus testified that he could see
"the blood running from the top of her body."
According to Marcus, Owens was still sitting on the bed, but
he got up and pointed a gun at Marcus once Marcus entered the
bedroom. Marcus testified that he took off running and called
911. Marcus stated that after he called 911, he walked to
Owens's mother's house, who lived approximately three
houses away, and "let her know that her son shot my
mother." At trial, Marcus testified that Owens
"shot my momma five times."
Marcus stated that after he spoke to Owens's mother,
Owens's family ran to Marcus's house. Marcus
explained that they had to wait approximately 45 minutes for
an ambulance, and during that time, Owens was still inside of
the house. Marcus testified that Owens's family members
were trying to calm Owens down because Owens was pointing a
gun at Marcus and Kiesha Owens, Owens's sister.
Kiesha testified that in May 2015, she lived three houses
down from Owens and Ruth on Cox Street. Kiesha stated that on
the evening of May 27, 2015, Kiesha's niece came into the
house and said "there was a shooting down the street at
[Owens's] house." Kiesha said that at first she
ignored her niece, but then when her niece repeated that
"they [are] shooting" at Owens's house, Kiesha
ran down to Owens's house.
Kiesha testified that when she arrived at Owens's house,
Marcus's brother, Rufus, and another man who was holding
a gun, were standing at the door. Kiesha entered the house,
where she saw Marcus and her nephew, Tiny, running out of the
bathroom. Marcus then stood in the living room. Kiesha
testified that the bedroom door was locked, so she knocked on
the door and called out to Owens: "[T]his is your
sister, Kiesha; let me in." Owens eventually opened the
door, and then he went back to the bed and held a gun to his
head. According to Kiesha, Owens did not look like himself,
and Owens asked her to just let him kill himself. Kiesha
stated that saw Ruth on the floor. Kiesha testified that she
checked Ruth's pulse and felt a light pulse. Kiesha asked
Owens to let her get help for Ruth. Kiesha also testified
that "in the midst of me talking to him and checking on
. . . Ruth[, ] I hear people in the background yelling please
do not shoot. Please do not shoot." Kiesha asked Owens
to put the gun down, and Owens "proceeded to put the gun
down on the bed[.]" Kiesha asked Owens what happened,
and he responded that Ruth "told [him] that she was
going to f*ck somebody." Kiesha grabbed the gun off of
the bed and ran out of the house. Kiesha stated that she
handed the gun to a police officer who was standing across
the street from Owens's house.
Detective Richard Washington of the Jackson Police Department
testified that on the evening of May 27, 2015, he responded
to a call about a shooting on Cox Street. Detective
Washington testified that once he arrived at Owens's
house, other police officers had already secured the scene.
Detective Washington entered the house and walked into the
bedroom, where he observed Ruth on the bedroom floor,
deceased. Detective Washington stated that police officers
retrieved a gun from the scene, and the officers determined
that the gun belonged to Owens.
Officer Robert Watts worked as a crime-scene investigator for
the Jackson Police Department in May 2015. Officer Watts
testified that on May 27, 2015, he photographed the crime
scene on Cox Street. Officer Watts stated that the weapon
recovered from the scene was a Taurus .38 special revolver
that could hold five rounds. Officer Watts testified that
when the gun was examined, it was determined to contain four
live rounds and one spent shell casing. Officer Watts
explained that "[a] live round is a bullet that has not
been fired, and a spent shell casing is a bullet that has
been fired." Officer Watts also testified that a bullet
was recovered from under Ruth's body.
Dr. Brent Davis, a medical examiner and forensic pathologist
at the Mississippi State Medical Examiner's office,
testified as an expert in the field of forensic pathology.
Dr. Davis testified that he performed Ruth's autopsy, and
he observed that she was shot five times, including two times
in her abdomen. Dr. Davis testified that he recovered
three bullets from Ruth's body during his examination.
The three bullets were admitted into evidence. After
performing the autopsy, Dr. Davis opined that Ruth's
cause of death was "multiple gunshot wounds, and the
manner of death is homicide."
After the State rested, defense counsel acknowledged that
"typically this is the portion of the trial where the
defense will make a motion for a directive verdict because
the State has rested." However, defense counsel
requested that the trial court allow the defense "to
reserve that motion until after the defense has been heard
this time only because at this point I would have to make the
same argument again twice, and if the Court has no objection,
I just prefer to just do it ...