Supreme Court upholds conviction in Davenport death

Published 7:01 pm Friday, April 14, 2023

The Mississippi Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of Samuel Hunter Anderson, 29, in the Sept. 25, 2020, shooting death of his grandmother Evelyn Davenport at her home.

A Warren County jury in 2021 convicted Anderson of first-degree murder in the death and Circuit Judge Toni Walker Terrett sentenced him to life in prison.

Anderson’s attorney appealed the verdict, claiming the court erred by refusing an accident-or-misfortune jury instruction and by admitting evidence of Anderson’s other bad acts during the trial.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Ninth Circuit District Attorney Ricky Smith said a defendant can seek an accident-or-misfortune jury instruction to ask the jury to consider that a person died because of an accident such as a gun going off while it was being loaded.

Samuel Hunter Anderson

Smith said Anderson, a convicted felon at the time of the murder, claimed he was trying to take a gun from a car and put it someplace else in Davenport’s house when it went off as he was carrying it, killing Davenport.

Smith said one provision to get the instruction is that the defendant was not involved in a criminal activity at the time of the alleged accident. Anderson, he said, was committing a crime because he was a convicted felon in possession of a firearm — a criminal act that prevented him from seeking the instruction.

Also, according to the court’s summary of the case, Anderson’s girlfriend testified that after she heard Anderson arguing with his grandmother, he came outside, grabbed and loaded the shotgun, and reentered the house.

The court ruled the judge did not make an error by not including the instruction and did not err in allowing testimony about past bad acts.

“We are always concerned when a case goes up for appeal that we try to do everything right in the trial,” Smith said. “We take our time and consider all the evidence we intend to put on, all the objections that we make with the idea somebody’s going to be looking at it if we get the conviction.

“You’re always kind of on edge while it’s with the courts. We’re obviously very happy that the court found we made no error in that and I know the family of Mrs. Davenport will be happy to hear that at least for now the case is finally over after all this time and they can relax and heal from all that.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

email author More by John