Havard appeal denied

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of death row inmate Jeffery Keith Havard.

An Adams County jury convicted Havard in 2002 for the killing of 6-month-old Chloe Madison Britt of Ferriday.

The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld his conviction last year, and the U.S. Supreme Court denied Havard’s appeal petition Monday.

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Havard allegedly sexually abused his girlfriend’s daughter before killing her. Prosecutors said the infant’s injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome, though the family has contended the death was accidental all along.

“I think it was based on hearsay and gossip,” Havard’s aunt Marilyn Cox said. “The verdict was not based on what was or what is. He had no defense. It was only a pure accident.”

On the night the incident occurred the baby’s mother, Rebecca J. Britt, reportedly left the house for a while. She returned to find that Chloe wasn’t breathing.

Britt and Havard brought the baby to the Natchez Community Hospital emergency room.

In his appeal to the state last year, Havard’s attorney raised 14 issues including questions of ineffective assistance of counsel, trial court error and prosecutorial misconduct. The court said all 14 claims were without merit.

Cox said the family will continue to support Havard. His grandparents visit him in state prison every two weeks, she said, and she sends frequent letters.