Court denies appeal of drive-by shooter

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Mississippi Court of Appeals has affirmed the guilty verdict against a paralyzed Warren County man convicted of drive-by shooting on Jackson Street.

The court denied the appeal of Eric Wallace, 33, who was convicted in November 2012 of drive-by shooting, shooting into a motor vehicle and shooting into a home at 1708 Jackson St. on Aug. 19, 2011.

Wallace was paralyzed from the waist down as a result of a 2006 drive-by shooting he was the victim of. Because of his injury, he is confined to a wheelchair. During his trial he testified that he used a pool cue to operate the gas and brake pedals of his truck.

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On Dec. 14, 2012, Ninth Circuit Judge M. James Chaney sentenced him to 23 years in prison.

Wallace’s appeal, which was handled by George T. Holmes of the state public defender’s office, contended that Chaney erred by omitting the phrase “knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life” from the jury instructions given on the drive-by shooting charge.

“It is not clear why Wallace believes reversible error would result from the omission of those words; they would broaden the set of facts under which he could be convicted,” Junior Justice Eugene Fair Jr. wrote in the appeals court’s opinion.

Wallace appealed on four other grounds, but justices ruled that there was insufficient evidence or no merit to each of the other contentions.

Wallace is serving his sentence in Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl.

He is set to be released in 2035, according to MDOC records.

During his trial, prosecutors said the case against Wallace was irrefutable because forensic tests showed bullet casings found near the home and a Chevrolet Astro van were riddled with bullets Aug. 19, 2011, at 1708 Jackson St. came from Wallace’s .40-caliber Smith and Wesson pistol.

No one was injured in the shooting.

Defense Attorney James “Buck” Penley Jr. argued the markings on the shell casings were not enough to convict Wallace.