State appeals court upholds Tupelo youth's simple assault sentence

The Associated Press

JACKSON The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the simple assault conviction of a Lee County youth who pushed another teenager down an embankment, leaving him paralyzed.

The youth was convicted in Lee County Youth Court in 2001. He was placed on supervised probation with the Department of Youth Services and ordered to perform 32 hours of public service in a juvenile work program.

The incident occurred in 2000 outside a Captain D's restaurant in Tupelo. Testimony at the youth court hearing was in conflict. Some witnesses testified the two boys argued over a girl, while others said there was no visible conflict.

The victim testified he was not sure that the defendant had pushed him over a retaining wall and down the embankment.

The defendant himself, according to the court record, admitted he pushed the victim, describing it as “just playing around.”

Youth Court Judge James Floyd III ruled the defendant acted in a reckless manner that led to the injury.

Appeals Court Judge Kenneth Griffis, writing for the court, said while there was conflicting evidence, the defendant admitted to pushing the victim and such reckless action falls under the simple assault law.

Griffis said there was no other witness who disputed the defendant's testimony.

Griffis said although the defendant may have been “just playing around,” the behavior “was careless, inattentive and rises to the level of recklessness.”

“It was certainly foreseeable that pushing a person down a hill may cause serious injuries. Sometimes tragic injuries result from horseplay,”' Griffis wrote.