Jones Co. man appeals murder conviction

Published 12:34 am Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Mississippi Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments on March 26 in the appeal of John Christopher Blakeney, who was convicted in 2007 for his role in the murders of his wife’s grandparents.

Blakeney was sentenced to life in prison for the slaying of Willie Kitchens on July 10, 2006. A Jones County jury was unable to reach a verdict in the murder of Anita Kitchens. Circuit Judge Billy Joe Landrum declared a mistrial in that case.

Prosecutors said the victims were strangled after being stunned by a Taser, and their bodies were placed in a car and driven to a spot near the Wayne County line, where the killers tried to set the car on fire.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Blakeney’s wife, Wanda, who was tried separately, was convicted of two counts of murder and sentenced to two consecutive life terms. She is not a party to her husband’s appeal.

Blakeney claimed he was in a hotel room in Denham Springs, La., at the time of the killings and had received a call on his cellular telephone from his wife around the time the prosecution had him at the murder scene.

Prosecutors said Blakeney’s phone had a feature that allowed the phone to answer by itself. They said Blakeney had left the phone in Denham Springs and called the phone from Jones County to set up an alibi.

Blakeney’s case is among dozens the Appeals Court will consider during the March-April term. Some cases are not scheduled for oral argument.

Among other cases before the Appeals Court are:

— The appeals of five men sentenced to life in prison for their roles in the 2006 beating death of Herman Fair of Friars Point.

The five — Jamario Brady, Anthony Sneed, Anthony Smith, Thomas German and Johnny Bickham — were convicted in 2007 in Coahoma County.

Prosecutors said the five men were waiting for Fair to come down from his second-story apartment in Friars Point on the night of Aug. 11, 2006, and when Fair got to the bottom of the stairwell they attacked him.

They said an autopsy showed Fair bled to death from the blows to the chest.

— Desmond Keys’ appeal of his 2007 conviction for the murder of 5-year-old Mariyanna Tucker.

Keys was sentenced to life in prison in Jones County for the 2006 killing.

Prosecutors said Keys fired a gun into an apartment at Lone Oak Apartments where the child lived with her family. Prosecutors said witnesses saw Keys walking away from the apartments carrying a rifle.

— Ron Husband’s appeal of his 2008 convictions for killing two Wiggins police officers. Husband was sentenced to two life terms in a trial moved to Wiggins because of pretrial news coverage.

Wiggins patrolmen Odell Fite, 48, and Brandon Breland, 23, died from gunshot wounds in 2005 after they responded to a domestic violence call at a Stone County home.

Prosecutors said Husband, while resisting arrest, managed to grab one of the officer’s guns and used it to shoot and kill both men.