Miss. high court to review death penalty case

Published 11:45 pm Monday, May 11, 2009

The Mississippi Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for June 16 in William Wilson’s appeal of his capital murder conviction for the 2005 slaying of a 2-year-old girl.

The case is among dozens the court will consider during the May-June term.

Wilson, of Mooreville, was sentenced to death in 2007 in Lee County Circuit Court after pleading guilty to capital murder and felony child abuse in the death of Mallory Conlee. Wilson was sentenced to death, as well as 20 years in prison on the child abuse charge.

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In Mississippi, capital murder is defined as murder committed along with the commission of another crime — in this case child abuse.

Death sentences are automatically reviewed by the Supreme Court.

At the time of the girl’s death, authorities said they had received a report that a motorcycle had fallen on the head area of the child. An autopsy report listed bruises all over the child’s body and third-degree burns to her feet.

Lee County Coroner Carolyn Gillentine had said the bruises were in several stages of healing, indicating that they had occurred over a time.

In another case, the Supreme Court will hear arguments June 1 from a Saucier citizen’s group challenge to the rezoning of local property for an industrial park.

In 2008, a judge upheld the Harrison County Board of Supervisors’ decision to rezone property from agricultural and residential to general industrial.

A group called Concerned Citizens of Saucier had sued in 2006 to block the industrial park.

The Harrison County Development Commission wanted to buy the 627-acre, $7.7 million tract from W.C. Fore LLC and have it rezoned for industrial use. The County Planning Commission approved the zoning change, which residents appealed to supervisors. Supervisors upheld the planning commission’s decision.

The Supreme Court will decide a number of cases based on briefs filed by attorneys rather than hearing oral arguments.

Among them is an appeal by the neighbors of Jackson’s Fairview Inn opposed to a 2004 zoning decision that allowed the bed and breakfast to serve walk-ins at its restaurant. A Hinds County judge upheld the zoning change in 2007.

Previously, the historic bed and breakfast in Jackson’s Belhaven neighborhood could serve only lodgers and people who made restaurant reservations. The Jackson City Council voted in 2004 to allow bed and breakfasts with attached restaurants in residential neighborhoods to operate as public restaurants. The only business in the city it applied to was the Fairview Inn.

Neighbors sued the city, saying the change amounted to spot zoning.