Court of appeals upholds man’s conviction on 4 counts of aggravated assault
A Neshoba County man convicted of four counts of aggravated assault in a May 31, 2019, incident in which he fired a gun into a car with four teenagers inside sought to have his case reduced to only one conviction, because, he said, he intended only to shoot one of the car’s occupants.
The Mississippi Court of Appeals, however, did not see it that way and affirmed Jeremy Jerome Brown’s March 20, 2020, Neshoba County Circuit Court conviction on four counts of aggravated assault in a Sept. 28 ruling.
“On appeal, he (Brown) argues that three of the convictions must be reversed because he only intended to shoot one of the car’s occupants and did not injure or intend to injure the other three occupants of the car,” the appeals court’s Sept. 28 ruling states. “Because the jury could have concluded beyond a reasonable doubt from the evidence that Brown intended to cause bodily injury with a deadly weapon to all the car’s occupants, we find no merit to Brown’s argument and affirm Brown’s convictions and sentences.”
According to the court record, at approximately 11:30 p.m. on May 31, 2019, three teenagers, Mitchelle Crouther, her younger sister Countess Crouther and a friend Dwayln Culberson, went to a house party on Gum Street in Philadelphia.
“A little after midnight, Mitchelle and Dwayln decided to leave the party,” the ruling states. “Countess was waiting on them in Mitchelle’s vehicle. As Mitchelle and Dwayln started to leave, they saw a friend dancing on a truck. Mitchelle tried ‘to get her to come on.’”
Brown, approximately 28 years old at the time, approached Mitchelle and told her she and her friend should leave the party because they were intoxicated.
“A verbal altercation ensued between Mitchelle and Brown,” the ruling states. “Dwayln testified that Mitchelle said ‘something that [Brown] didn’t like,’ and she ‘swung on him’ but did not hit him. Brown kicked her, and she stumbled backward. Dwayln testified he was holding on to her and telling her ‘let’s go.’”
Mitchelle’s friend, Kinte Hickman, ran over to help her and swung at Brown, hitting him possibly twice, the court record states. Brown’s sister joined in and Brown jumped on Hickman, who broke free and ran down the street on foot.
“Kinte testified that after fleeing he caught a ride to go tell Mitchelle’s mother what happened, although neither Mitchelle nor Dwayln knew where Kinte had gone,” the court document states. “At some point during the altercation, someone fired a ‘warning shot’ into the air to break up the fight.”
Mitchelle and Culberson got into the vehicle, and Culberson later testified that as he and Mitchelle Crouther got into the vehicle, he saw Brown “fighting somebody over a gun. . . . [H]e was trying to get a gun out of somebody’s . . . hand.”
Brown succeeded in getting the gun.
The teenagers left with Dwayln driving Mitchelle’s vehicle toward Mitchelle’s house with Countess sitting in the front passenger seat, and Mitchelle sitting in the backseat on the passenger side.
“Around ten minutes after leaving the party, they arrived approximately a half-mile away in front of Mitchelle’s grandmother’s house on Border Street,” the court document states. “Dwayln stopped the vehicle in the street, and Kinte came out of the house. Kinte got into the backseat of the vehicle on the driver’s side. Mitchelle was seated in the backseat next to him.”
Just after Kinte walked to her car from her grandmother’s house and sat down in the backseat a black Chrysler “pulled directly right beside [them], and the back door opened, and . . . three shots went off . . . .”
Kinte had not yet closed the car door, and the back passenger door of the Chrysler was almost touching the open back driver’s side door of Mitchelle’s vehicle.
“Mitchelle, Dwayln and Countess all testified that before the shots were fired, they heard Brown’s voice inside the Chrysler say, ‘Where’s Kinte?’” the court record states. “And once Brown identified Kinte in the vehicle, he started shooting. Although Mitchelle testified she heard three shots, Kinte testified that Brown shot four or five times. A bullet grazed Kinte’s left shoulder.”
Brown never exited the vehicle, and the vehicle left.
Brown was indicted in the Neshoba County Circuit Court for separate counts of aggravated assault, one each against Mitchelle, Countess, Dwayln and Kinte.
On March 11, 2020, he was tried by a Neshoba County Circuit Court jury and found guilty for separate counts of aggravated assault, one each against Mitchelle, Countess, Dwayln and Kinte.
“On March 20, 2020, the circuit court sentenced him to serve 15 years for each count in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with the sentences set to run consecutively to one another and to any sentence currently being served,” the ruling states.
Brown filed a motion for a new trial and that motion was denied and later filed an appeal seeking to reduce the convictions to one count.
In affirming the conviction on all four counts, Mississippi Court of Appeals Chief Judge Donna M. Barnes, Presiding Judge Virginia C. Carlton, Presiding Judge Jack L. Wilson, Judge Jim M. Greenlee, Judge Latrice A. Westbrooks, Judge Deborah McDonald, Judge Joel Smith, Judge David Neil McCarty and Judge John H. Emfinger concurred.
“Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, reasonable and fair-minded jurors could have inferred that Brown intended to inflict bodily injury on all four victims with a weapon likely to produce death or serious bodily harm, a gun, when he pursued the vehicle occupied by the victims and fired multiple shots into the vehicle,” the opinion states. “We find that the State presented sufficient evidence for the jury to find Brown guilty of aggravated assault against all four victims. We affirm Brown’s convictions and sentences.”
The Court of Appeals hears cases assigned by the Supreme Court and is an error correction court. It hears and decides appeals on issues in which the law is already settled, but the facts are in dispute. The Supreme Court may review Court of Appeals decisions. If the Supreme Court declines review, the decision of the Court of Appeals stands.