Havard case goes to supreme court

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 26, 2005

NATCHEZ &8212; The only death penalty case in Adams County in recent history will face the state Supreme Court for appeal next month.

Jeffery Keith Havard was convicted and sentenced to death in 2002 for capital murder in the death of 6-month-old Chloe Madison Britt.

&8220;It was a pretty heinous crime,&8221; District Attorney Ronnie Harper said Monday. &8220;The evidence was pretty overwhelming.&8221;

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Havard was living on Montgomery Road with the baby&8217;s mother, Rebecca J. Britt of Ferriday. Chloe Britt died on Feb. 21, 2002, after her mother brought her to Natchez Community Hospital.

The cause of death was brain injuries caused by violent shaking. She also showed signs of sexual abuse.

Testimony during the December 2002 trial showed Rebecca Britt left the house to shop and returned home to find that her daughter wasn&8217;t breathing and Havard was locked in the bathroom.

Chloe Britt was not Havard&8217;s daughter.

Havard has been on death row in Parchman since the sentencing.

Harper said the appeal was a normal part of the court process.

If an appeal is filed in a capital case oral arguments are required.

The attorney general&8217;s office will handle the case for the state, but Harper may be called upon for questions.

The district attorney said he plans to attend the Dec. 12 arguments before the court.

Attorneys from both sides will present their arguments to the justices but won&8217;t call witnesses, Harper said.

If the justices have questions, they can stop the proceedings to ask them.

&8220;There&8217;s nothing unusual about this at all,&8221; Harper said. &8220;It&8217;s running its course as it does with the court system.&8221;

Though a few other death penalties have been handed down in Adams County since the 1970s, those were cases heard in Natchez because of a change of venue.

Havard&8217;s murder case is the only crime committed in Adams County that received a death penalty sentence since the reinstatement of the death penalty in Mississippi.