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Greenleaf v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

March 21, 2019

ALONDO GREENLEAF
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/29/2017

          COAHOMA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. LINDA F. COLEMAN TRIAL JUDGE

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: ROSHARWIN LEMOYNE WILLIAM HARVEY GRESHAM, ALLAN D. SHACKELFORD RICHARD B. LEWIS

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF THE STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: MOLLIE MARIE McMILLIN

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: LISA L. BLOUNT

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: BRENDA FAY MITCHELL

          ISHEE, JUSTICE

         ¶1. Alondo Greenleaf was convicted of aggravated assault after stabbing a young man in the back. Greenleaf testified it was an accident, and on appeal he contends he received constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel because his defense attorney did not offer what Greenleaf calls an "accident instruction" based on the excusable homicide statute. But Greenleaf fails to rebut the presumption this was sound trial strategy, so we affirm Greenleaf's conviction and sentence.

         FACTS

         ¶2. On April 29, 2016, Greenleaf asked his cousin, [1] Cecily Matthews, to borrow her truck. Matthews initially agreed, but her younger brother, Dennis Smith, Jr., had recently borrowed it and still had the keys. When Greenleaf asked Smith for the keys, Smith refused because, he said, he had recently overheard Greenleaf arguing with his wife, and Greenleaf had threatened to "run her over." At the time of the incident, Smith was about sixteen years old, and Greenleaf was twenty-seven. Smith lived at Matthews's house, and Greenleaf sometimes stayed there too. Several other people were present-Matthews's friend, Smith's friend (an eighteen-year-old man), and Matthews's eight-year-old son. Greenleaf and Smith began arguing outside, but eventually everyone ended up indoors. At that point the stories diverge.

         ¶3. Matthews said she saw Greenleaf holding a knife with the blade down as if it were a dagger, "like he was ready to stab somebody." A short time later, Greenleaf "bear hugged" Smith and stuck him in the lower back with the knife. Greenleaf then told Smith's friend he was next and "chased him down the street."

         ¶4. Smith testified that Greenleaf went into the house first. Shortly after Smith himself went in, Greenleaf approached him suddenly and they "bear hugged." Smith said he never saw the knife. After Smith was stabbed, Greenleaf threatened Smith's friend and chased him out of the house.

         ¶5. Greenleaf took the stand in his own defense and testified that the stabbing was an accident. After the argument with Smith, Greenleaf walked away and went indoors to feed his dog-Greenleaf explained that he had been staying with Matthews and he was keeping his dog at her house. Greenleaf got a kitchen knife to open a bag of dog food when Smith and his friend approached Greenleaf and shoved him. Greenleaf was surprised and lost his balance; the "bear hug" resulted from his trying to catch himself by grabbing Smith. Greenleaf said he dropped the knife during the scuffle and did not know where it went. He realized he had inadvertently stuck Smith only after Matthews began yelling at him. Greenleaf offered to stay and help or to drive Smith to the hospital, but Smith declined. Smith and his friend then threatened to "shoot up" Greenleaf's grandmother's house, so Greenleaf left to avoid escalating the situation. Greenleaf said he later received a phone call from a police investigator and turned himself in.

         ¶6. On cross-examination, Greenleaf admitted that he had spoken with the police after the incident and that he had not mentioned the dog or opening a bag of dog food. Then, in rebuttal, the prosecution called the police officer who had interviewed Greenleaf. The officer added that, in Greenleaf's original account of the ...


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