MS Supreme Court refuses to review case of Hattiesburg murderer

Photo Credit: WDAM
Photo Credit: WDAM

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) –

The Mississippi Supreme Court refuses to review the case of a Hattiesburg man convicted of murder. Back in 2013 Jairus Collins was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of Ebony Jenkins.

According to court documents, Jenkins’ body was found in a wooded area in Hattiesburg in December of 2011. Those court documents indicate she was shot. On appeal, Collins did get a retrial in 2016 and was convicted and sentenced to life without parole again.

¶1. Jairus Collins was retried for the murder of Ebony Jenkins on May 10-12, 2016, in the

Circuit Court of Forrest County. Collins was found guilty and sentenced as a habitual

offender under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-83 (Rev. 2015) to life without

parole in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). Aggrieved,

Collins filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, in the

alternative, a new trial, which the circuit court denied by order. Collins timely appeals. After

¶2. In December 2011, Jenkins’s body was discovered behind the Mississippi Children’s

Home Services Care School in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Collins was later identified as a

suspect in Jenkins’s murder and arrested. In November 2012, a Forrest County grand jury

indicted Collins as a habitual offender for Jenkins’s murder and possession of a weapon by

a convicted felon. The circuit court granted Collins’s motion to sever the charges in his

¶3. After a trial on the murder charge, Collins was convicted in the Forrest CountyCircuit

Court and appealed his conviction. This Court affirmed Collins’s conviction. However, in

August 2015, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed Collins’s conviction and remanded for

¶4. Collins was retried on the murder charge on May 10-11, 2016, in the Forrest County

Circuit Court. He was convicted of murder and sentenced as a habitual offender to serve life

without eligibility for parole in the custody of the MDOC. Collins filed a motion for a JNOV

or, in the alternative, a new trial. The circuit court denied the motion by order in July 2016.

felon-in-possession-of-a-weapon count, and the motion was granted. In February 2016,

Collins was convicted of being a felon in possession of a weapon. He was sentenced as a

habitual offender without eligibility for probation, parole, or any form of early release

pursuant to section 99-19-83. Collins appealed this conviction, and this Court affirmed the

I. Whether the verdict is against the overwhelming weight of the

¶5. Collins argues that the circuit court improperly denied his requests for a directed

verdict and JNOV. “Because motions for directed verdicts and JNOV motions require

consideration of the evidence before the court when made, this Court properly reviews the

ruling on the last occasion the challenge was made in the trial court.” Shipp v. State, 847 So.

2d 806, 811 (¶20) (Miss. 2003) (citation and internal quotations omitted). Here, it is the

denial of Collins’s JNOV motion or, in the alternative, a new trial that was made last.

¶6. However, we find that Collins combined his arguments regarding the legal sufficiency

of the evidence with his argument regarding the overwhelming weight of the evidence. We

¶7. “A motion for a JNOV tests the sufficiency of the evidence.” Crowell v. State, 193

So. 3d 706, 710 (¶13) (Miss. Ct. App. 2016) (citation omitted). “When addressing the legal

sufficiency of [the] evidence, we consider all evidence in the light most favorable to the

State.” Id. (citing Bush v. State, 895 So. 2d 836, 843 (¶16) (Miss. 2005) (abrogated on other

¶8. Collins asserts that there was insufficient evidence to establish that he committed the

crime, and that the State failed to establish he was in possession of the gun. However, this

Court has held that the fact that “the only evidence supporting [a] conviction is circumstantial

does not mean the evidence is insufficient.” Goldsmith v. State, 195 So. 3d 207, 213 (¶24)

(Miss. Ct. App. 2016). “The Mississippi Supreme Court has consistently held that the State

Collins argued the evidence used against him was circumstantial and didn’t prove he killed Jenkins. However, the court disagreed ultimately refusing to take up his case.

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