Court of Appeals 2/1/11

GEORGE FORD v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

Another failure to give jury instructions case.  Ford was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to serve 18 years.  In May of 2008, Ford and his five year old son were at a convenience store to get gas and some groceries.  While there Cassius Gallion approached Ford and an argument ensued,  which, according to Ford, was over 5 dollars Ford refused to give Gallion the week prior.  The store employee was afraid of a fight and she escorted the five year old to the car.  As Ford continued to pump gas, Gallion and some of his friends surrounded Ford and began yelling at him.  One of Gallion’s friends, Mario Moore ran up to Ford and hit Ford and/or Ford’s friend, according to video surveillance.  Ford fell into his car, then went to his trunk and got a gun.  The video isn’t clear but Moore began to run when Ford got to his trunk, or after he fired his first shot. Ford claimed to have shot into the air, but nonetheless Moore was struck and died later.

Forgetting the fact that Ford probably should not have been indicted, much less tried, he was found guilty of manslaughter.  Ford appealed stating that the Judge was in error for not allowing his justifiable homicide instruction.

Ford argues this instruction was necessary to instruct the jury on three separate theories of his defense that were supported by the evidence and not covered by other instructions.  Ford claims that: (a) he had a right to use deadly force to resist the commission of a felony against him, specifically robbery; (b) he had a right to use deadly force to protect his son if he reasonably feared that his son was in danger of serious bodily harm or death;and (c) he had a right to use deadly force if he reasonably feared serious bodily harm, death,or the commission of a felony from the entire group that surrounded his car, rather than from Moore alone.

The trial judge denied his proffered instruction, and the Court of Appeals, in holding with the new wave of rulings from the Supreme Court, reversed the conviction and remanded for a new trial for failure to give the requested instruction.

 

TAVARES SHOWERS  v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

Showers was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years.  He appealed on the grounds that the Court erred in admitting video footage of Showers after he requested an attorney.  The Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction.

The facts are not really in dispute here.  Showers, 16, arrived home and found people in his house.  He asked everyone to leave so that he could talk to his mother.  Jeremy Munson, a guest, refused.  They got into a fight and Showers ended up stabbing Munson, killing him.

Showers was taken to the Columbus Police Department and was questioned.  He asked for a lawyer and the questioning ended.  However, Officer David Criddle returned to the room and told Showers he would listen if Showers wanted to make a statement.  Criddle continued to ask questions and Showers admitted to getting the knife.  The police then allowed Showers mother and aunt to talk to Showers.  All the while the Columbus Police Department is videotaping this, without Showers or his relatives knowing.  The majority held that the statement to the officer was improper and should have been suppressed.  But the majority held that since the relatives were not police officers the statements to them were ok.

 

Justice Ishee, in his dissent, points out that once Showers had requested an attorney, any statements obtained from Showers while in custody should be inadmissible.  He states, in regard to Columbus Police Department, “What makes this even more offensive, is the fact that this is the stated policy of the Columbus Police Department–that is, essentially to obtain evidence through secretive, shady,and illegal means.”  Does this mean that when a lawyer speaks with his attorney at the Columbus Police Department, the police are video taping it?  I have not had a client in Columbus PD, so I don’t know what the logistics are, but that is disconcerting.  I doubt we’ve heard the end of this case.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: