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Stanfield v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

May 9, 2019

DAVID STANFIELD a/k/a DAVID LEE STANFIELD
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

          COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: CHICKASAW COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ANDREW K. HOWORTH

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: BENJAMIN CREEKMORE THAD J. MUELLER JAMES D. MOORE WILLIE C. ALLEN

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: JUSTIN T. COOK GEORGE T. HOLMES

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: JOE HEMLEBEN

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: BENJAMIN CREEKMORE

          COLEMAN, JUSTICE

         ¶1. David Lee Stanfield was convicted of aggravated assault and of felon in possession of a firearm. The sole issue before the Court is whether the trial court erred in instructing the jury that self-defense is not a defense to the crime of felon in possession of a firearm. It did not. Accordingly, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. On the night of February 18, 2015, Stanfield was at his sister Glenda Rose Stanfield's house in Okolona, Mississippi, where people were drinking, smoking, and gambling. Terence "Buck" Ford, Michael "Weezee" Ford, and Markel "Ketchup" Weeks also were at Glenda's that night. At some point that night, gunshots were fired, and Terence, Michael, and Weeks were injured. Several other people were at Glenda's that night, but most had left to obtain more alcohol before the shooting occurred.[1] Conflicting testimony exists in the record regarding whether Stanfield fired the shots that night in self defense or if Stanfield had been the aggressor.

         ¶3. Stanfield was indicted for three counts of aggravated assault for the shooting of Terrance, Michael, and Weeks. Stanfield was also indicted for one count of felon in possession of a firearm.

         ¶4. Terrance testified that he had not been in possession of a gun the night of the shooting and that he had not seen Stanfield gambling. Terrence testified that Stanfield had walked into the kitchen that night and had shot him in the chest three times.

         ¶5. Michael testified that he had not seen Stanfield gambling the night of the shooting. Michael testified that he had been sitting in the kitchen with Terrence and Weeks when Stanfield came into the kitchen with a gun in his hand and, without speaking, shot Terrence three times in the chest. After Stanfield shot Terence, Michael ran and hid in a corner. Michael testified that Stanfield then reached across the table and shot at him. Michael saw Weeks dive under the table. Then, Stanfield was "talking to Robert Hill, Skeebo; and Skeebo was talking to him back. He said, [Stanfield], you ain't got to kill me. You can have it."

         ¶6. Michael testified that Stanfield then flipped the table over and asked Weeks, "Where's the gun?" Weeks responded that he did not have a gun. Michael testified, "I reached up for the back door. He seen me and said, Don't you move. You know you had this coming. I said, Don't kill me. I got a son to live for. That's when [Weeks] started running." Michael testified that Stanfield began shooting at Weeks, and he jumped out the window. Michael sustained a minor injury on his left arm. The evidence was disputed whether Michael was grazed by a bullet or whether he sustained a laceration from jumping out of the window.

         ¶7. Weeks testified that he had not seen Stanfield play dice the night of the shooting, that Stanfield had entered the kitchen without saying anything, and that Stanfied had started shooting. Weeks testified that Stanfield shot Terrence two or three times and then leaned over the table and shot again. Weeks hid under the table. Stanfield then put a gun in Weeks's face and asked him if he had a gun. Weeks responded that he did not have a gun. Weeks testified that no one else had brought a gun to Glenda's on the night of the shooting. Weeks testified that he fled and that Stanfield was chasing him. Weeks heard gunshots. Weeks fell to the ground, and, when he got up and began running again, he realized he had been shot in the pelvic area. The evidence was disputed whether Weeks was shot from behind or from the front.

         ¶8. Marquon Evans, a part-time Okolona Fire Department employee, testified that he had lived close to Glenda and that Michael had run to his house that night, had asked for help, and had stated that Stanfield had been shooting at him. Tameka Betts, an officer with the Okolona Police Department, testified that she had been patrolling that night when a vehicle came behind hers at a high rate of speed. Officer Betts stopped her car and observed Terrence jump out of the car behind hers. Officer Betts testified that Terrence had stated that he had been shot by Stanfield while he was at Glenda's house. Dwight Parker, assistant chief of police, testified that he received a call that another gunshot victim was located at the Townhouse Apartments. Assistant Chief Parker testified that when he arrived at the apartment, he observed Weeks with a gunshot wound to the pelvic area. Assistant Chief Parker also testified that Weeks said that Stanfield had shot him.

         ¶9. Stanfield gave a statement that on the night of the shooting, he had been playing dice at Glenda's house and won $900. After he finished gambling, Stanfield fell asleep in the living room. When he awoke, he stated that his pockets were flipped inside out. Stanfield walked into the kitchen where Terence, Michael, and Weeks were sitting and asked who had taken his money. Stanfield stated that Terence then had pulled out a gun and had told him to give him the rest of the money. Stanfield claimed that he started wrestling with Terence for the gun, and the gun went off and struck Terence. Stanfield said he shot once or twice more, dropped the gun, and left the house because he was scared. Stanfield's testimony at trial essentially mirrored his statement. Stanfield stipulated that he had been convicted of a felony.

         ¶10. The trial court instructed the jury on both self-defense and the defense of necessity. The trial court gave a defense-of-necessity instruction, Instruction C-7, which read as follows:

A defense to being a felon in possession of a firearm may occur when the Defendant acts out of necessity.
In order to be entitled to a defense of necessity, the Defendant must prove the following: (1) the act charged was done to prevent a significant evil, (2) there was no adequate alternative, and (3) the harm ...

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