DANTE O. TAYLOR A/K/A DANTE O'BRYAN TAYLOR A/K/A DANTE O'BRIEN TAYLOR A/K/A DANTE TAYLOR APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 12/20/2016
HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT, HON.
CHRISTOPHER LOUIS SCHMIDT JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
HUNTER NOLAN AIKENS
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
ABBIE EASON KOONCE
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: JOEL SMITH
Dante Taylor was convicted of murder and sentenced to life
without parole as a habitual offender. He appeals his
conviction asserting that the jury was improperly instructed,
entitling him to a new trial. In the alternative, he argues
that the jury's verdict was against the overwhelming
weight of the evidence. Finding no error, we affirm.
On September 23, 2014, Dante was at a friend's house when
his sister, Tiffany Taylor, called him crying. She said that
their uncle, Willie Taylor, had jumped on her and choked her.
At the time, Tiffany lived with their aunt, Michelle Evans,
who is Willie's sister. Dante told Tiffany to call the
police and press charges and to show police where Willie
lived. Tiffany hung up the phone with Dante and then called
Officer George Vitteck was dispatched to Evans's house in
response to the domestic- disturbance call. He spoke with
Tiffany, who informed him that she and Willie got into an
argument over her child's bicycle. Tiffany told the
officer that Willie hit her in the face and grabbed her
around the neck. Officer Vitteck testified that Tiffany had
no visible injuries.
Evans's daughter, Maya Taylor, witnessed the fight
between Tiffany and Willie. Maya testified that Willie hid
Tiffany's son's bicycle because he was riding the
bike in the street, which Willie thought was unsafe. Willie
and Tiffany started arguing, and Tiffany "[w]as all up
on him, so he was pushing her up off of him. And once she
start punching him he started hitting her back." Maya
testified that the fight lasted "less than five
minutes." When Tiffany called the police, Willie left.
Maya also testified that Tiffany called Dante and told him
that Willie had jumped on her, and Dante came to Evans's
house later that night.
Madeline Adams, Dante's mother, testified that she called
Dante that night and asked him to leave Willie alone. On
direct examination, she testified that Dante said that
"Willie put his hands on a female in the family for the
last time" and that he was "going to do him"
or "going to punish him." On cross-examination,
Adams admitted that Willie was looking for Dante that night
and wanted to hurt him.
Dante testified on his own behalf. He stated that he went to
Evans's house that night to check on Tiffany and let her
know that he loved her and was there for her. Before Dante
left, he told Tiffany to lock the door to the house in case
Willie tried to come back and hurt her. Dante also testified
that, after Willie's fight with Tiffany, he "had
words" with Willie. Dante said that Willie threatened
him, and, in turn, Dante told Willie that he was not going to
let Willie do anything to him.
Dante stated that his mother called him that night and told
him that Willie had "just left [her] house, threatened
to kill me, and [said] when he catch me he was going to kill
me." According to Dante, his mother warned
"don't let [Willie] do nothing to you, son, you know
your uncle be sneaky, watch your back." Dante testified
that he took his mother's warning seriously, and he
believed that Willie was a real threat. Dante testified that
he obtained a pistol that night because he knew Willie wanted
to kill him and he needed protection. He denied that his
mother asked him to leave Willie alone, and he denied telling
her that he was going to "do" or "punish"
Dante also testified about what happened the day of the
shooting. Tiffany called him that morning and told him that
Willie came to Evans's house. Dante testified that Willie
told Tiffany "since she went and called the police and
played police games" she had an hour to get her things
and car and leave or he was "gonna to come back and beat
the 'F' out of her."
Dante told Tiffany that he was on his way to Evans's
house, and he drove there in his vehicle. When Dante arrived
at Evans's house, Evans, Maya, and their neighbor were
sitting under a tree near the road playing cards. Dante
testified that he tried to get Tiffany to leave Evans's
house with him, but she did not want to leave because she was
waiting on someone to come move her vehicle; she did not want
to leave her vehicle because Willie had threatened to damage
it or have it towed. Dante told Tiffany that he was going to
wait on her. He drove to the store to get more cigarettes
because he was anxious and "did not want to stay in that
spot too long" given that ...