Oral arg. – Miss.S.Ct. – Jan. 24, 2017

At 1:30 the Miss.S.Ct. will hear the case of Tyler Edmonds v. State in which Edmonds sought compensation under Mississippi’s Compensation to Victims of Wrongful Conviction and Imprisonment Act.

In 2003, 13-year-old Edmonds was charged along with his half-sister of   murdering his  brother-in-law Joey Fulgham, during a Mother’s Day weekend shooting in 2003. Fulgham died of a gunshot wound to the back of the head.  Edmonds initially told investigators he held a .22-caliber rifle, while Kristi Fulgham put her arms around him and they both fired the fatal shot. Edmonds then recanted his story, claiming he was outside Joey Fulgham’s house at the time of the shooting. Both were found guilty of Joey Fulgham’s murder in 2004.  His conviction was overturned and he was acquitted after a retrial.

Edmonds then filed suit in federal court against Oktibbeha County but it was dismissed when the court found that state actors had done nothing wrong.  He then filed suit in state court seeking compensation under the Compensation to Victims of Wrongful Conviction and Imprisonment Act. The trial court dismissed the suit pursuant to M.C.A.  § 11-44-7(c), which disallows recovery if a plaintiff fails to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he did not “fabricate evidence to bring about his conviction.”

Circuit Court Judge Coleman wrote:

It is undisputed in this case that the Plaintiff made an allegedly false confession to law enforcement. This confession was admitted into evidence in both the trial that resulted in the Plaintiff’s conviction and in the second trial wherein he was found not guilty. §11-44-7(c) clearly requires the Plaintiff to prove that he did not fabricate evidence which led to his conviction. The Court finds the Plaintiff has failed to meet his burden of proof.

Edmonds appeals raising the following issues:

Whether a child who is pressured into giving a false confession, at a time when he did not know any criminal case existed, has “fabricated” evidence.

Where this Court has already held that a criminal defendant was denied a fair trial, can any false confession that the defendant made be considered to be the legal cause of his conviction?

Under Mississippi’s “Compensation to Victims of Wrongful Conviction and Imprisonment Act,” MISS. CODE ANN. § 11-44-1, et seq., is one entitled to a jury trial?




Watch the argument here

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