State high court to review paralyzed man’s appeal

Published 9:14 am Friday, January 9, 2015

In a divided decision Thursday, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered documents to review in the case of a paralyzed Warren County man convicted of drive-by shooting.

The court voted 5-4 to request documents for review in the drive-by shooting conviction of 34-year-old Eric Wallace in 2011. It was unclear when the case might be considered by the high court, and it was not listed on the 11-page docket for January and February.

Wallace, who was paralyzed following a drive-by shooting in 2006, is serving a 23-year prison sentence for drive-by shooting, shooting into a motor vehicle and shooting into a dwelling. Because of a spinal injury Wallace suffered when he was shot in 2006, he uses a wheelchair.

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During his trial he testified that he used a pool cue to operate the gas and brake pedals of his truck and was doing so on the night prosecutors said he shot up at a Jackson Street home in 2011.

Wallace appealed his conviction to the Mississippi Court of Appeals, but they affirmed his conviction in July 2014.

Wallace’s appeal, which was handled by George T. Holmes of the state public defender’s office, contended that Circuit Judge M. James 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.

Junior appellate judge Eugene Friar Jr. noted in the court ruling that it was unclear how Wallace thought the omission hurt his case.

Wallace appealed on four other grounds including ineffective council, but the appellate judges ruled that there was insufficient evidence or no merit to each of the other contentions.

Wallace is serving his sentence in South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville, according to Mississippi Department of Corrections records.

His tentative release date is January 21, 2035.

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.