The Mississippi Attorney General’s office filed a response to the case of a Jackson police detective convicted of manslaughter almost a year ago in a controversial trial.
Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s office said in the brief that they agree with arguments raised by Detective Anthony Fox’s attorneys in regards to his trial and conviction.
Fox was convicted last August of culpable negligence manslaughter in the death of George Robinson, AKA “Killer George.”
The case was prosecuted by District Attorney Jody Owens and assistant DAs Kurt Guthrie, Sharon Spencer, and Gwen Agho. Judge Adrienne Wooten presided. The case went to trial in late July of last year, in spite of investigations by the FBI, MBI, Clinton Police Department, and Jackson Police Department that cleared Fox of any wrongdoing and an opinion by Federal Judge Carlton Reeves stating that the officers involved were covered by qualified immunity.
Fitch recommended that the Court of Appeals reverse the conviction and render a judgement in Fox’s favor.
The AG’s finding states the following:
It states the following:
That conviction should not stand. Our Supreme Court has long warned about the dangers of the culpable-negligence statute. In particular, that Court has cautioned that juries may be “overinclined to convict on proof of what is in fact no more than simple negligence.”
Phillips v. State, 379 So. 2d 318, 320 (Miss. 1980).
The culpable negligence-manslaughter statute demands more: a showing “beyond every reasonable doubt” of “wanton disregard” or “utter indifference” to the safety of human life—a “high burden.” Brown, 304 So. 3d at 696. Because juries may convict on less than what culpable-negligencemanslaughter statute demands, “there have been more reversals in this class of cases than perhaps in any other.” Phillips, 379 So. 2d at 320.
Scroll down to see the whole document.
At the time of his trial and conviction, Fox was working for Clinton Police Department. They released a statement about the brief filed by the AG’s office.
“The AG’s office joins a long list of agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Attorney’s Office, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, the Jackson Police Department, and the Clinton Police Department, who have investigated this matter and determined that the charges brought by the Hinds County District Attorney’s Office were unsupported and inappropriate,” said the release. “The City of Clinton remains steadfast in its support of Detective Fox and looks forward to a ruling from the Court of Appeals releasing Detective Fox and correcting this injustice.”
“This Court should reverse Fox’s conviction and render judgment in his favor,” stated the Attorney General’s office.
After a thorough breakdown of the facts of the case, the AG’s filing leads into the arguments made by Fox’s defense.
“After thorough review, the State has concluded that the evidence at trial was insufficient as a matter of law to allow a rational juror to convict Fox of culpable-negligence manslaughter. The evidence does not allow a finding that Fox acted with “negligence of a higher degree than that
which in civil cases is held to be gross negligence” or “negligence so gross as to be tantamount to a wanton disregard of, or utter indifference to, the safety of human life … beyond every reasonable doubt.” Id. at 696–97 (quoting Moore v. State, 117 So. 2d 469, 471 (Miss. 1960)). This Court should reverse the judgment below and render judgment in Fox’s favor,” the AG’s office contends.
Tantamount to the conviction, the AG said, was a need of proof that Fox slammed Robinson to the ground in a fashion that would have killed him.
“The record is clear that the wound to Robinson’s head was superficial—a small abrasion no bigger than the size of a thumbnail. Tr. 640. If Robinson’s head were forcibly slammed into the ground, he would not have had that sort of wound. The wound would have been far more substantial. Any rational lay juror would know that: it is a matter of basic life experience that any adult juror possesses,” the filing says.
“So the record evidence compels the conclusion that the head-slamming never occurred—and that the witnesses who claimed otherwise cannot be credited. Because no rational juror could have
credited their testimony—which was necessary to sustain Fox’s conviction—that testimony is insufficient as a matter of law to sustain the conviction.”
The document ends up saying that even if the witnesses were credible, there was still substantial evidence that Fox was not responsible for life-ending injuries.
Before closing, Fitch asserted once more, “As explained above, the conviction should be reversed outright and judgment rendered in Fox’s favor. Fox should never have been convicted and should not face another trial.”