Court of Appeals reverses two Lafayette decisions

By Patsy R. Brumfield

Daily Journal

JACKSON – Anthony Carothers should get a new trial in the 2011 assault of his half-sister, the Mississippi Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

Carothers was convicted Nov. 4, 2011, in the beating of Sheena Carothers and was sentenced to 40 years in prison with 30 years suspended and 10 years to serve.

On appeal, Carothers cited four reasons, but the Court of Appeals agreed that one issue – that the circuit court erred in allowing the state to treat Sheena as a hostile witness – was enough to warrant a new trial. The legal opinion rests on the state’s need to prove it was surprised by her responses to its questions.

A review of Sheena’s testimony at her half-brother’s bond hearing, the court said, “essentially mirrors her testimony at trial.” She also showed no “blatant hostile behavior” prior to the state’s request that she be treated as such.

The appeals court, voting 8-2, said her designation as a hostile witness opened the door for the production to testimony that brought about Carothers’ conviction.

The case could go back before Judge Andrew K. Howorth, although the state may appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

In a second Lafayette County case, the Court of Appeals reversed and returned a circuit court decision ordering return of John Beasley’s DUI conviction to justice court for enforcement of a 2002 decision.

At issue was whether Judge John Gregory had the authority to send the case back, after Beasley appealed to circuit court.

The court, voting 9-0 with one not participating, said the circuit court had no jurisdiction for the order and that Beasley and his attorney made repeated good faith efforts to appear across a 10-year series of scheduling failures.