226 So.3d 1 (Miss. 2017), 2013-DP-01877-SCT, Evans v. State

Docket Nº:2013-DP-01877-SCT
Citation:226 So.3d 1
Opinion Judge:RANDOLPH, PRESIDING JUSTICE.
Party Name:TIMOTHY NELSON EVANS A/K/A TIMOTHY N. EVANS A/K/A TIMOTHY EVANS A/K/A TIM EVANS v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
Attorney:FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER, BY: ALISON R. STEINER, FRANK P. WITTMANN, IV. FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: CAMERON LEIGH BENTON.
Judge Panel:RANDOLPH, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT. WALLER, C.J., MAXWELL, BEAM AND CHAMBERLIN, JJ., CONCUR. COLEMAN, J., CONCURS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION JOINED BY RANDOLPH, P.J., MAXWELL AND CHAMBERLIN, JJ.; WALLER, C.J., JOINS IN PART. KITCHENS, J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION JOINED B...
Case Date:June 15, 2017
Court:Supreme Court of Mississippi
SUMMARY

Timothy Evans was tried and convicted of capital murder with the underlying felony of robbery for the death of Wenda Holling. At the conclusion of the sentencing phase, the jury imposed the death penalty. Evans’s post-trial motions were denied. Evans appealed, raising ten assignments of error. Finding no error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. ... (see full summary)

 
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226 So.3d 1 (Miss. 2017)

TIMOTHY NELSON EVANS A/K/A TIMOTHY N. EVANS A/K/A TIMOTHY EVANS A/K/A TIM EVANS

v.

STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

No. 2013-DP-01877-SCT

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

June 15, 2017

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/23/2013.

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HANCOCK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LISA P. DODSON. TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: TODD NATHAN THRIFFILEY, MATTHEW DRAKE BURRELL.

Evans v. State, (Miss., July 23, 2015)

FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER, BY: ALISON R. STEINER, FRANK P. WITTMANN, IV.

FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: CAMERON LEIGH BENTON.

RANDOLPH, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT. WALLER, C.J., MAXWELL, BEAM AND CHAMBERLIN, JJ., CONCUR. COLEMAN, J., CONCURS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION JOINED BY RANDOLPH, P.J., MAXWELL AND CHAMBERLIN, JJ.; WALLER, C.J., JOINS IN PART. KITCHENS, J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION JOINED BY DICKINSON, P.J., AND KING, J.

OPINION

RANDOLPH, PRESIDING JUSTICE.

[¶1] Timothy Nelson Evans was tried and convicted of capital murder with the underlying felony of robbery for the killing of Wenda Holling. At the conclusion of the sentencing phase, the jury imposed the death penalty. The Circuit Court of Hancock County denied Evans's post-trial motions. Evans appeals, raising ten assignments of error. Finding no error, we affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

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[¶2] Evidence adduced at trial revealed that in the spring of 2009, Evans moved into Holling's home as her tenant. The two previously had been romantically involved, but that relationship had ceased before Evans moved in with seventy-year-old Holling. On the morning of January 2, 2010, fifty-two-year-old Evans and his friend, Joe Thomas, were on the way to perform a carpet-cleaning job when the van they were riding in broke down. Evans had consumed several beers that morning and asked Thomas for money to buy more beer, which Thomas did not give him. Evans called Holling and asked her to pick him up. After the call, Evans told Thomas that Holling was going on a cruise with her daughter and he had to drive her to the airport in Baton Rouge. Holling picked up Evans in her silver Kia and drove him to her house. When Evans left with Holling, he was intoxicated.

[¶3] Once home, Holling was sitting in a chair in the living room when Evans attempted to smother her with a pillow. When his attempt to smother Holling failed, Evans strangled her to death. Then, Evans placed her body on her bed, showered, and got ready to go out. Evans took Holling's credit card and, at about 5:00 p.m., picked up Thomas

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in Holling's Kia, announcing " come on, let's go party." Evans had been drinking when he picked up Thomas. Evans and Thomas stopped at several ATMs where Evans used Holling's credit card to obtain cash. Then, the two traveled to Sawdoff's bar, where Evans used cash and Holling's credit card to pay for alcohol and food for himself and Thomas. Later, Evans dropped off Thomas and returned to Holling's home.

[¶4] The next morning, Evans placed Holling's body in the trunk of her Kia, picked up Thomas, and drove to Harrison County. While driving, he told Thomas he had run over a skunk and asked several times if Thomas could smell it. He dropped Thomas off and then stopped at Pee-Wee's gas station, where he bought beer with cash, but he used Holling's credit card to buy gas. Evans then drove to a rural area where he dumped Holling's body in the woods about ten yards from the side of the road. The same day, Evans attempted to use Holling's credit card again at a Walmart in Wiggins, but it was declined.

[¶5] Holling's adult children, who usually spoke with their mother regularly, became concerned about her whereabouts. On January 5, 2010, Holling's son called the Hancock County Sheriff's Department

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and reported her missing. Investigator John Luther detected no signs of a struggle inside Holling's home. He found several items of clothing and a pair of prescription glasses, all identified as Holling's, in a garbage can outside Holling's home. Evans gave a voluntary statement to Investigator Luther, not admitted at trial, in which he said that Holling had gone to Florida on vacation. Investigator Luther subpoenaed records from Holling's bank and determined that her credit card had been used at several locations on January 2 and 3, 2010. He obtained surveillance video and purchase records from Pee-Wee's gas station that showed Evans had used the credit card to buy gas. On January 26, 2010, Holling's body was discovered by a road crew in Harrison County. Dr. Paul McGarry performed an autopsy that revealed defensive wounds and the cause of death, manual strangulation.

[¶6] Investigator Luther requested the assistance of the United States Marshals Service to locate Evans. On February 17, 2010, the Service apprehended Evans in a hotel room in Florida. Evans waived extradition and gave a statement to local investigators admitting that he had killed Holling; this statement also was not admitted

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at trial. The next day, Evans was transported back to Hancock County, where he gave an audiorecorded statement that was admitted. In that statement, Evans revealed that, after Holling had driven him home that afternoon, he had decided to steal her credit card from her purse, but she had caught him in the act. He and Holling began arguing, and he decided to kill Holling. As Holling was sitting in her living room chair, he " went and got a pillow and put it over her head . . . when that didn't work . . . I just strangled her and uh then I just picked her up and I put her up on her bed and I got the credit card and I took a shower and I just went out like everything was fine . . . ."

[¶7] Evans also described how the next morning, before he transported Holling's body to Harrison County, he removed several items of Holling's clothing and placed them in the trash can outside. He said that, after he had deposited Holling's body in the woods, he threw her purse into some weeds farther down the road. Then he drove to Bogue Chitto and stayed with a friend. Evans also described how he had disposed of Holling's cell phone by throwing the phone's chip down a drain in Picayune and throwing the phone

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itself out of the car window beside an interstate exit.

[¶8] Evans brought investigators to the area where Holling's body was found. He also showed them the area where he had thrown her purse, but it was never found. On March 10, 2010, Evans wrote a letter to Investigator Luther which amended his earlier statement. In the letter, Evans said that he had decided to " use [Holling's] credit card and cash I knew she had in [her]bedroom drawer," and then he attempted to smother her with a pillow; when that failed to kill her, he got on top of her and strangled her to death. Evans said that his previous statement that Holling had caught him taking her credit card had been a lie. He wrote: " I planned this that day and I know that I just followed thru [sic] with plan." (Emphasis in original.) Evans wrote that " I had to confess truthfully to God and also to you for me to be forgiven by God, I don't expect man to forgive me. . . ."

[¶9] In June 2010, Evans wrote a five-page letter to Donna Harris, a reporter with The Sun Herald. In this letter, Evans stated that he had planned the killing on December 20, 2009. He decided where and how to kill Holling, and " planned party time too." Evans wrote that, on December

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29, 2009, he looked for a place to bury the body. Evans said that, after he " carried out murder on January 2nd 2010," he " went out partying Saturday nite [sic]. . . ." He said that he " used her credit card too." Evans described how he used the credit card and said that he " meant to go back to place and bury body." However, before he could do so, he left the state to evade capture. Evans's letters to Luther and Harris were admitted at trial.

[¶10] Defense counsel emphasized Evans's intoxication and attempted to show that Evans was guilty of, at most, heat-of-passion manslaughter. The defense presented no testimony but did offer the newspaper article that Donna Harris had written after her interview with Evans. Harris wrote that, during the interview, Evans had expressed remorse and said that he deserved to go to death row, did not deserve the mercy of the court, and " [i]f he could, he would plead guilty today and get a death sentence." Evans also had said that he had been drinking heavily the day of the killing, and " I just lost control of my thoughts. I just lost control of what I was doing and what I was thinking." He admitted that, when Holling was still breathing, he had second thoughts

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but decided to follow through on his plan.

[¶11] The trial court denied Evans's proffered manslaughter instructions, finding them...

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