Rehearing to be sought on murder decision

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – Keir D. Sanders’ attorney said he’ll ask for a rehearing before the Mississippi Court of Appeals, which by a 6-3 vote Tuesday denied his client’s appeal of a life sentence for the 1985 death of his grandmother.
Sanders went on trial in Lee County in 2008 for the Tishomingo County crimes. A jury found him guilty in Elma Sanders’ death and not guilty by reason of insanity in the death of her husband and his grandfather, W.D. Sanders. He went missing soon after the deaths and was not arrested until some 20 years later.
Circuit Judge Thomas Gardner III ordered him to serve his life sentence before the commitment sentence could begin.
“I will definitely ask for a rehearing with the Court of Appeals,” said Hunter Aikens, Sanders’ attorney with the Mississippi Office of Indigent Appeals.
Aikens questioned the jury’s inconsistent verdicts, as well as a variety of alleged errors during the trial. The appeal also argued that the overwhelming evidence indicated Sanders was insane when he committed the murders.
If the rehearing is denied, Aikens said he will take the appeal to the state Supreme Court.
Sanders was accused of shooting and bludgeoning his grandfather while he was cooking breakfast, then shooting his grandmother while she was lying in bed.
Mrs. Sanders wrote “KD shotgun” on the floor using her own blood, police testified.
Writing for the majority, Judge Larry Roberts said after a thorough review of the record, the evidence does not weigh heavily against the jury’s findings.
Roberts also agreed Gardner was correct to require Sanders to serve the life sentence before being conveyed to a state mental hospital on the insanity verdict.
However, Judge David Ishee, joined by judges Leslie King and Donna Barnes, disagreed with the decision. The dissent termed the murder conviction “an unconscionable injustice” and said the evidence did not support the jury’s verdict, saying the state did not prove Sanders’ sanity beyond a reasonable doubt.
Ishee writes that he would reverse the conviction and sentence and send the case back for a new trial.
The court also affirmed circuit court decisions in four other Northeast Mississippi cases:
• Robert Glass’ 1999 guilty plea for capital murder in Marshall County, Judge Andrew Howorth presiding.
• Judge Paul S. Funderburk’s ruling in favor of Dr. Benjamin Wiseman in a 2008 Lee County medical malpractice lawsuit filed by William Sanders.
• Mildred P. Rollins’ side of a 2006 land boundary dispute filed by Charles T. Scarborough in Oktibbeha County, Judge Kenneth Burns presiding.
• Judge John A. Hatcher’s denial of a motion to set aside the 2008 Lee County Chancery Court divorce judgment in favor of Sheryl Jean Cobb over L. Dennis Cobb.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.