Convictions Upheld In Nightclub Killings

Joseph Wash claimed he was at home with his mother when Kavie Simmons was shot to death outside a Gulf Coast nightclub in 2001.

The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday, in upholding Wash's manslaughter conviction and 18-year sentence, said Wash overlooked the eyewitnesses who saw him shoot Simmons in the back.

According to the court record, Simmons had broken up a fight between Wash and another man early in the evening of Sept. 29, 2001. The record showed witnesses testified that Wash returned about 4 a.m. and shot Simmons, who died at Singing River Hospital.

Wash was convicted in Jackson County Circuit Court in 2003.

Wash had testified that he was at home sleeping at the time of the shooting. He said his nephew told him that someone got shot at the club. He said he later found out by reading the newspaper that Simmons had been shot.

In his appeal, Wash said the prosecution did not prove he killed Simmons.

Appeals Judge Billy G. Bridges, writing Tuesday for the court, said the testimony of prosecution witnesses was rebutted only by the testimony of Wash himself. Bridges said there were no inconsistencies in the testimony of the witnesses that would justify overturning the conviction.

Youngblood was shot to death on Jan. 14, 2001, outside the Cadillac Club in Gulfport. Earlier, a fight broke out in the bar and moved outside where Youngblood was shot.

According to the court record, Smith did not deny killing Youngblood and claimed he acted in self-defense.

Witnesses said Youngblood had pulled Smith off the back of one man and pushed Smith up against a wall outside of the club. When Youngblood turned to go help others involved in the fight, witnesses said Smith shot him in the back of the head.

Smith testified that he had warned the crowd outside the bar that he would shoot them to protect himself. He testified that he was knocked to the ground. Smith said he fired two shots after coming up off the ground.

Smith testified no one involved in the fight had a gun, knife or weapon except him. He said nobody threatened to harm him in any way. Smith said that he never saw Youngblood hit or kick him during the fight.

Appeals Judge David Anthony Chandler, writing for the court, said the jury was presented with the evidence and chose to believe the prosecution's side of the case.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)