Parvin v. State

Decision Date23 February 2016
Docket NumberNo. 2014–KA–00466–COA.,2014–KA–00466–COA.
Citation212 So.3d 863
Parties David W. PARVIN a/k/a David Woodrow Parvin, Appellant v. STATE of Mississippi, Appellee.
CourtMississippi Court of Appeals

James Lawton Robertson, Jackson, Jim Waide, Rachel Pierce Waide, Tupelo, William James Dukes, Jackson, Edwin Poteat Lutken Jr., attorneys for appellant.

Office of the Attorney General by Ladonna C. Holland, attorney for appellee.

Before GRIFFIS, P.J., ISHEE and WILSON, JJ.

GRIFFIS, P.J., for the Court:

¶ 1. David Parvin was convicted of the murder of his wife, Joyce Parvin. On appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court found reversible error and ordered a new trial. Parvin v. State (Parvin I), 113 So.3d 1243 (Miss.2013).

¶ 2. On remand, Parvin was tried a second time in the Circuit Court of Monroe County. The jury found Parvin guilty of murder. The trial court sentenced Parvin to serve life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Parvin filed post-trial motions, which were denied. He then filed a notice of appeal, and the supreme court deflected this appeal to this Court. In this appeal, Parvin argues that the evidence was insufficient, the Weathersby rule required his acquittal, his due-process rights were violated, there were errors in the admission of evidence, the jury was not properly instructed, and cumulative error. We find no error and affirm.

FACTS

¶ 3. The basic facts were summarized by the supreme court in Parvin I:

On the morning of October 15, 2007, Dr. David Parvin called 911 to report that he accidentally had shot Joyce Parvin, his wife of forty-nine years, at their home near Aberdeen, Mississippi. When law enforcement officials arrived, Joyce was dead. She was found in a desk chair, her body draped over the left armrest, with a shotgun wound

on the right side of her torso.

Parvin reported to the investigating officers that he had been rushing out of the house to shoot a beaver and was carrying a loaded shotgun. According to Parvin, in his haste, he tripped, and during his fall, the gun discharged, shooting his wife, who was seated at their home computer. He told the officers that he believed the gun had been parallel to the floor or slightly elevated. He also was unsure about some of the other details: whether he or his wife had spotted the beavers first; whether he had tripped over the rug or the dog; whether his knee had hit the floor; and whether the barrel of the gun had hit the armrest of the chair where Joyce was sitting at the moment it discharged. Parvin also said that he typically held the gun, a double-barreled Savage Arms Fox 12–gauge shotgun, with his left hand on the fore grip and his right hand around the trigger guard, but was unsure whether he had pulled one of the two triggers accidentally. Although Parvin was unsure about many of the details surrounding the incident, he maintained at trial that the shooting was an accident caused by his unexpectedly tripping and falling while holding the shotgun.

Parvin I, 113 So.3d at 1244–45 (¶¶ 2–3). Each of these facts was established at the second trial.

ANALYSIS

I. Whether the evidence was insufficient to prove that Parvin acted with "deliberate design" when he accidentally shot and killed his wife.

¶ 4. Parvin was indicted and convicted of the murder of Joyce.

Mississippi Code Annotated section 97–3–19(1)(a) (Rev.2006) provides, "The killing of a human being without the authority of law by any means or in any manner [shall be murder] ... [w]hen done with deliberate design to effect the death of the person killed, or of any human being[.]"

¶ 5. Parvin admits that he shot and killed Joyce. However, he claims that it was an accident. Parvin argues that there was insufficient evidence to prove that he killed Joyce "with deliberate design to effect the death of the person killed." Id. Thus, Parvin contends that the evidence was insufficient as to the element of "deliberate design" or "intent to kill." As a result, Parvin asks this Court to reverse and render his conviction.

¶ 6. When the sufficiency of the evidence is challenged, "the critical inquiry is whether the evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that accused committed the act charged, and that he did so under such circumstances that every element of the offense existed; and where the evidence fails to meet this test it is insufficient to meet a conviction." Sands v. State, 62 So.3d 374, 377 (¶ 14) (Miss.2011) (internal quotations omitted). The Court "is not required to decide whether it thinks the State proved the defendant's guilt." Id. at (¶ 15). In viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, the relevant question is whether "any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. (emphasis added). The supreme court has held:

If the facts and inferences point in favor of the defendant on any element of the offense with sufficient force that reasonable [jurors] could not have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty, then the proper remedy is for the appellate court to reverse and render. But if the evidence shows that reasonable and fair-minded persons, while considering the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard in the exercise of impartial deliberations, might have reached different conclusions on every element of the offense, then the evidence will be deemed to have been sufficient.

Id. at 377–78 (¶ 16) (internal quotations and citations omitted).

¶ 7. "Deliberate design connotes an intent to kill [.]" Williams v. State, 164 So.3d 1078, 1080 (¶ 7) (Miss.Ct.App.2015). "[T]he essence of the required intent is that the accused must have had some appreciable time for reflection and consideration before committing the fatal act." Craft v. State, 970 So.2d 178, 183 (¶ 17) (Miss.Ct.App.2007). "Deliberate design to kill a person may be formed very quickly, and perhaps only moments before the act of consummating the intent." Brown v. State, 965 So.2d 1023, 1030 (¶ 28) (Miss.2007). Furthermore, "deliberate design ... may be inferred through the intentional use of any instrument which, based on its manner of use, is calculated to produce death or serious bodily injury." Williams, 164 So.3d at 1080 (¶ 7). In convicting Parvin, the jury determined that Parvin had the deliberate intent to kill Joyce before he shot her with the shotgun.

¶ 8. To prove the evidence was sufficient, the State acknowledges that there was no direct evidence of deliberate design. The State, however, points to the testimony of a number of witnesses to prove that the jury had sufficient evidence to find Parvin's intent to kill.

¶ 9. The State argues that Parvin's inconsistent accounts of the events surrounding Joyce's death is evidence of deliberate design. First, when Deputy Curtis Knight first spoke with Parvin on the scene, Parvin told him that he tripped over the rug and the gun went off. Second, after Parvin's clothes were taken for testing but while still at the scene, Parvin told Deputy Knight that he was unsure what he tripped over. Third, also while on the scene, Parvin told Sydney Bean, a neighbor and law enforcement officer, that he tripped over the dog and the gun went off. Fourth, when Parvin went in to give a statement, he was unsure what he tripped over, but it may have been the rug or the dog. Fifth, at the first trial four years after Joyce's death, Parvin stated that, just before giving his statement to law enforcement, he was at Amy's house when "it actually came to me exactly that I stepped on the dog." Sixth, while awaiting retrial, Parvin determined that "I tripped, trying not to kill the dog, which I believed I could safely do without the gun firing[;] I somehow—I moved the safety forward to the off fire position, and somehow I pulled or touched the front trigger, and the gun fired."

¶ 10. The State claims that Parvin's arguments at the second trial—about the "accident"—contradicted prior versions of how he allegedly fell. In all prior statements and in his trial testimony he stated that the gun "went off"; he did not recall pulling the trigger. He claimed it likely discharged by "striking something real hard," and at one point his thumb was probably on the safety and at another time it was on the side of the frame. Yet on October 16, 2013, six years after the "accident," he remembered that as he fell he moved the safety forward to the off/fire position and pulled or touched the trigger.

¶ 11. The State presented the expert testimony of Starks Hathcock, a forensic scientist specializing in firearms identification. Hathcock testified about his findings from tests of Parvin's shotgun. He examined Parvin's shotgun and conducted multiple tests in order to determine whether the gun would fire when jarred or dropped. One of the tests involved hitting various areas of the gun with a cowhide mallet. During this test, the gun did not fire. In another test, the gun did not go off when dropped multiple times at multiple angles. Hathcock dropped the gun twenty-four times at various angles with the safety on and off until the gun broke, and the gun never fired. Further, Hathcock testified that in order to fire, the safety would need to be off and the trigger pulled with a weight of eight to ten pounds. Thus, to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty based upon these tests, Hathcock testified that the gun would not misfire. The State claims that this evidence was inconsistent with Parvin's claim of accidental discharge.

¶ 12. The State also offered testimony about Parvin's normal actions or habits in the storage and use of guns. Parvin's daughter, Amy, testified about Parvin's life-long insistence on gun safety. Parvin kept his guns in an outside storage room, which was accessible by exiting the house from a door in his bedroom. Parvin's grandson, Clay, testified that Parvin went through his room "most of the time" to go to the channel to shoot on the water. The State argues...

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7 cases
  • Ashmore v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • 15 Septiembre 2020
    ...intentional use of any instrument which, based on its manner of use, is calculated to produce death or serious bodily injury. Parvin v. State , 212 So. 3d 863, 868 (¶7) (Miss. Ct. App. 2016). In Parvin , a case where the defendant was accused of killing his wife, there were no eyewitnesses ......
  • Alvarado v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • 19 Julio 2022
    ...to produce death or serious bodily injury. Ashmore v. State , 302 So. 3d 707, 714 (¶20) (Miss. Ct. App. 2020) (quoting Parvin v. State , 212 So. 3d 863, 868 (¶7) (Miss. Ct. App. 2016) ). ¶17. Alvarado maintains the evidence "showed that [he] acted on impulse in grabbing Singh's gun as Woods......
  • Slaughter v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • 20 Octubre 2020
    ...‘conduct and statements following the killing are inconsistent with his version of the events as recounted at trial.’ " Parvin v. State , 212 So. 3d 863, 871 (¶18) (Miss. Ct. App. 2016) (quoting Green v. State , 631 So. 2d 167, 174 (Miss. 1994) ). In addition, "if the defendant's testimony ......
  • Morrison v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • 18 Enero 2022
    ...Id. ¶21. Several years ago, our Court examined this limitation in a case bearing a striking resemblance to Morrison's. Parvin v. State, 212 So.3d 863, 871 (¶18) (Miss. Ct. App. 2016). In Parvin, a man was convicted of deliberate design murder for the death of his wife. On the morning of her......
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