White v. State, No. 2011–KA–00048–COA.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtLEE
Citation127 So.3d 241
Docket NumberNo. 2011–KA–00048–COA.
Decision Date20 March 2013
PartiesEboni Bena WHITE a/k/a Eboni White a/k/a Eboni B. White, Appellant v. STATE of Mississippi, Appellee.

127 So.3d 241

Eboni Bena WHITE a/k/a Eboni White a/k/a Eboni B. White, Appellant
STATE of Mississippi, Appellee.

No. 2011–KA–00048–COA.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi.

Oct. 23, 2012.
Rehearing Denied March 20, 2013.

[127 So.3d 245]

Cynthia Ann Stewart, attorney for appellant.

Office of the Attorney General by John R. Henry, attorney for appellee.


BARNES, J., for the Court:

¶ 1. A Claiborne County jury convicted Eboni White of manslaughter, and the trial judge sentenced her to a term of twenty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). White now appeals to this Court, claiming the trial court erred in: refusing to dismiss her indictment based on certain improper influences on the grand jury; prohibiting her expert witness, Jeffrey Curtis, from giving his opinion at trial on the use of force in self-defense; refusing to instruct the jury on her theory of self-defense; and in not allowing her witness, Ricky Thompson, to testify because he was in the courtroom during Curtis's testimony. Additionally, White challenges the weight and sufficiency of the evidence to support her conviction, and argues cumulative error. This Court, however, finds no reversible error and affirms.


¶ 2. Eboni White and the victim, Danielle Newsome, were students at Alcorn State University and had been friends since high school. They lived in trailer homes across the street from one another in a trailer park near Lorman, Mississippi. White lived with other roommates, and Newsome lived with her four-year-old son, Daniel. White and Newsome had a “falling out” when Newsome accused White of failing to stop for her child's school bus one morning at the end of October 2009. The bus picked Newsome's child up every morning and took him to a Head Start program. White remembers the incident as follows. That morning she was taking a football player to practice. She backed out of her driveway and stopped behind the bus. The bus's lights were on, but it had no stop sign; so White just went around the bus, to its left, and drove to Alcorn's campus. Shortly after returning home, White heard banging at her door. It was Newsome, who wanted to know if White had gone around the school bus. White said yes. Newsome exclaimed, “You almost hit my f**king baby.” White responded that she came nowhere near the child. Newsome then threatened White: “If something happens to my baby, I[am] going to f**k you up.” White did not think much of Newsome's threat until later when Newsome started a “campaign of harassment” against White. Newsome would call White a “b***h” every time she saw White. Additionally, Newsome told White the police were looking for her and her vehicle because of the bus incident.

¶ 3. Approximately one week after the bus incident, White filed a complaint with the Claiborne County Sheriff's Office over

[127 So.3d 246]

Newsome's harassment. Martha Lott, a dispatcher with the sheriff's office, filled out the complaint form for White. White stated that on November 1, 2009, Newsome came to White's trailer door and made threats because White had driven around the school bus. Further, every time White came home, Newsome was outside waiting for her, cursing and calling White names. While normally Lott would contact the law-enforcement deputies when a complaint was filed, this time she did not because White did not ask her to.

¶ 4. On the morning of November 12, 2009, at approximately 8:00 a.m., White had started her vehicle, but she had to return to her trailer with a case of beer her roommate had left in her vehicle, as she could not take it to school. She then heard banging at her door and Newsome threatening, “B***h, come outside. I'm going to get you. Come on. I know you are in there ... ain't no way out. You're going to see me today.” A neighbor also testified Newsome woke her by repeated yelling at White's trailer something to the effect of: “B***h, I'm going to whoop your ass. B***h, come out of there” for approximately fifteen to twenty minutes. Another neighbor overheard the commotion and was so concerned she called the police. White stayed in the trailer for approximately an hour and one-half trying to avoid Newsome, missing a college calculus test at 9:00 a.m. White made numerous phone calls to her brother, mother, and father; however, she could not get in touch with them. White's brother had dated Newsome; so White thought “he could talk to [Newsome] and figure out what was going on.” When White finally reached her father, he told her to forget about her calculus test and go immediately to the courthouse and file a restraining order. Also, he told her to bring home her handgun, which White had bought for safety during road trips, as the trips were concluded.

¶ 5. At some point, White exited her trailer, with the handgun in the pocket of her backpack, heading towards the driver's door of her vehicle. Newsome came forward from her trailer across the highway, approached the driver's door of White's vehicle, and blocked White's access to her vehicle. The two exchanged words in the common driveway off the highway, where White's vehicle was parked. Witnesses recounted that Newsome again stated, “You tried to hit my baby,” and asked White, “Why did you try to run over my child?” White told Newsome they had “discussed this already” and to “chill out,” but Newsome responded, “No, f**k that. F**k that. We fixing to discuss it again.” White stated that as Newsome was approaching her, Newsome's hand came up, and there was something silver in it, which White thought was a weapon. 1 One eyewitness testified that White was cursing Newsome as well, calling her a “b***h” and stating she was “tired.” White then took her handgun from her backpack and shot Newsome several times. Law-enforcement officers arrived to hear gunshots and saw a crowd of people had gathered. Newsome fell to the ground. Officers told White to put the gun down, and she threw it towards them stating, “You can have it now.” As they were arresting White, someone said, “Eboni, I told you to wait in the house. I told you to wait.” White, very upset, responded, “Y'all was taking too long ... [Newsome] wouldn't leave me alone.” Newsome died from multiple gunshot wounds.

¶ 6. White was indicted for murder. She filed a motion to dismiss the indictment for improper influence by the grand jury foreperson, who White claimed knew

[127 So.3d 247]

and disliked her. The trial court denied the motion. A three-day trial ensued in September 2010.

¶ 7. At the trial, several of White's and Newsome's neighbors testified. One neighbor testified that on the morning of the shooting, he pulled up in his vehicle to where Newsome was standing, and she told him a young lady had tried to run over her child. The neighbor told Newsome to “let it go” and return to her trailer. Newsome also tried to stop her child's bus driver, who was coming through the trailer park at the time, and tell the driver that White had tried to run over her child. Newsome then approached one of White's roommates who was outside. The roommate told Newsome she had nothing to do with the incident and to speak with White about it, and returned to her trailer.

¶ 8. Three neighbors testified they saw White shooting the gun. White, testifying on her own behalf, claimed she took the gun with her to take it home, on her father's advice-not to shoot Newsome. Regarding the shooting, White claimed that she had witnessed Newsome's capacity for violence in other prior instances, and felt she had to protect herself. Newsome's autopsy showed a total of five gunshot wounds: one to the head, three to the torso, and one to the thigh. No weapons were found on Newsome's body.

¶ 9. The jury found White guilty of the lesser-included offense of manslaughter. The trial judge sentenced her to twenty years in the custody of the MDOC. White's motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or a new trial was denied, and White appealed.

I. Improper Influence by Grand Jury Foreperson

¶ 10. White asserts that the trial court erred in refusing to dismiss her indictment because of improper influence by the grand-jury foreperson, who White claims knew and disliked her. White argues that her conviction should be reversed and the indictment dismissed, or, in the alternative, she should receive a full hearing on the issue.

¶ 11. The sole inquiry an appellate court can make regarding grand-jury proceedings is “whether the grand jury was subjected to improper influences.” Culp v. State, 933 So.2d 264, 281 (¶ 59) (Miss.2005) (citing Hood v. State, 523 So.2d 302, 307 (Miss.1988)). “Absent evidence that a member of the grand jury acted with malice, hatred, or ill will, or fraud, or otherwise violated the oath taken by grand jurors, it is presumed that the grand jurors did not improperly or illegally act in returning the indictment against the accused.” Id. (citing Southward v. State, 293 So.2d 343, 344 (Miss.1974)). The factual determinations of the trial court are reviewed only for clear error. Conclusions of law are reviewed de novo. Id.

¶ 12. Prior to trial, White filed a motion to dismiss her indictment, where she alleged that the foreperson had been an employee at her high school when White was a senior. White claims she and the foreperson had a “serious verbal confrontation” during high school that resulted in White's not being allowed entrance into an honor society. Additionally, White contends the foreperson was a personal acquaintance of Newsome, and is personal friends with the district attorney's wife. The trial court denied the motion because White did not present sufficient evidence to overcome the presumption that the grand jury acted properly.

¶ 13. There is no evidence in the record that there was any improper influence

[127 So.3d 248]

on the grand jury because of the relationships of the grand-jury foreperson with...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1 practice notes
  • White v. State, No. 2011–CT–00048–SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • November 7, 2013
    ...16. Here, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding Thompson as a witness. White v. State, 127 So.3d 241, 260 (Miss.Ct.App.2012). It opined that White presented a complete defense by calling fifteen witnesses during her case-in-chief; that noth......
1 cases
  • White v. State, 2011–CT–00048–SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • November 7, 2013
    ...16. Here, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding Thompson as a witness. White v. State, 127 So.3d 241, 260 (Miss.Ct.App.2012). It opined that White presented a complete defense by calling fifteen witnesses during her case-in-chief; that noth......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT