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Peters v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

September 17, 2019

DONNIFER PETERS APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/12/2018

          WALTHALL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. HON. DAVID H. STRONG JR. TRIAL JUDGE.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: ERIN ELIZABETH BRIGGS

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: BARBARA WAKELAND BYRD

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: DEE BATES

          BEFORE BARNES, C.J., GREENLEE AND LAWRENCE, JJ.

          GREENLEE, J.

         ¶1. Donnifer Peters was convicted of first-degree murder, conspiracy to possess a firearm by a felon, and two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon. The trial court sentenced him to life for first-degree murder, five years for conspiracy to possess a firearm by a felon, and ten years for each of his felon-in-possession-of-a-firearm convictions, to be served consecutively, in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC).[1] Peters was also ordered to pay a $10, 000 fine and court costs. On appeal, Peters claims that the jury's verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Donnifer Peters and his girlfriend, Ashley Harvey Alford ("Harvey"), were indicted together in a multi-count indictment. The day before Peters's trial, Harvey pled guilty to auto burglary, conspiracy to possess a firearm by a felon, two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon, and accessory after the fact to murder.

         ¶3. At Peters's trial, Harvey testified that around 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. on August 5, 2016, she and Peters drove her maroon Chevrolet Malibu to Alonza Mays's trailer. They drank vodka and used cocaine, [2] and then they went to McComb to buy more liquor. When they arrived in McComb, Mays went inside a store and purchased a pack of cigarettes, beer, and vodka.

         ¶4. Then they went to see Daniel Holmes ("DJ"), who worked at a dairy farm in Walthall County. According to Harvey, DJ had shown her a pistol and a shotgun a few days earlier, and Peters wanted to sell the guns for drugs. When they arrived at the farm, Harvey retrieved the guns from DJ's truck and gave them to Peters. Then they drove to Lionel Holmes's house.[3]

         ¶5. When they arrived at Lionel's house, Peters and Mays got out of the vehicle. But Harvey testified that when they returned to the vehicle, Peters was upset and said something about "this m[*****]f[*****]" and people keeping their mouths shut. Harvey testified that they continued driving, but at some point, Peters stopped the car because he "had to take a p[***]." According to Harvey, Peters walked around the vehicle, and then she heard a gun fire. When she looked around, she realized that Mays was "gurgling" in the backseat. Harvey testified that Peters got back in the car and started driving again, but then Peters stopped and said, "Get that m[*****]f[*****] out of here." So she pulled Mays out of the vehicle.

         ¶6. Harvey testified that they continued driving, but at some point, the car ran out of gas. So she and Peters began walking down Henry Smith Road. Harvey testified that Cindy Gonzales Zelaya picked them up and took them to "Ollie's." But after a while, Peters wanted to leave and accused Harvey of looking at Ollie. According to Harvey, Peters hit her, and then they went their separate ways. Harvey testified that Ashley Grubbs picked her up on the side of the road and took her to Melvin Bridge's house.[4] Peters eventually showed up and mentioned ...


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