Man’s murder charges dropped

Published 12:46 am Friday, January 11, 2019


NATCHEZ — A Natchez man’s second-degree murder charges were dropped Monday as his case was about to go to trial.

Prosecutors said they were concerned the case against Casey Woods could wind up being overturned a second time and instead will consider pursuing other charges for which Woods could face life in prison.

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In September 2016, Casey Woods was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole by the Sixth District Circuit Court.

Last March, however, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed Casey Woods’ second-degree murder conviction on the basis that he did not receive adequate assistance from his legal counsel when his attorney did not file a post-trial motion for a new trial.

Woods is still charged with possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and will be tried as a habitual offender, officials said, for which the maximum penalty is also life without parole.

His overturned conviction stemmed from an incident in Natchez on May 24, 2015, when Woods reportedly shot the estranged husband of his girlfriend, Doris Tenner.

Mississippi Supreme Court documents stated that Doris and Pierre Tenner were separated, and Tenner had been arrested on domestic violence charges just three weeks before the incident after he forcibly entered Doris’ residence with a 12-gauge shotgun upon seeing Woods’ truck parked in the yard.

Doris reportedly locked herself in a bedroom after she’d been seen “with a man in the house,” and Pierre “fired the shotgun through the door, hitting the wall and a television in the bedroom,” court records indicate.

Doris called the police and filed charges against Pierre, and he was later released on a bond subject to certain conditions, which included having no contact with Doris and giving her “exclusive use and possession of the residence,” court records indicate.

On May 24, 2015, Pierre — who was reportedly drunk — stood across the street from Doris’ residence as Woods was preparing to wash his truck in the yard.

“After only a few minutes, Pierre and Woods began arguing from opposite sides of the street,” the record sates, but no evidence exists on who started the argument.

Doris testified that Pierre started to cross the street to her house, but stopped first at his truck, rolled the window down, put his hand inside the truck, saying, “I missed you the first time, but I won’t miss you this time,” and then proceeded to cross over to her house with his hand behind his back.

Another eyewitness, Paul Armstead, said he did not see Pierre stop at his truck and that he did not “act like he had a gun,” and “did not have a weapon of any sort,” the record states.

Pierre and Doris tussled at the edge of her yard before she went inside her house to call the police, and Woods followed her and returned outside with a shotgun that she did not know was on her property, the record states.

Armstead testified that “when Woods came out with the shotgun, Pierre was advancing towards Woods,” after which Woods shot Pierre in the right thigh.

Armstead and another neighbor reportedly drove Pierre to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The Mississippi Supreme Court documents further stated, “Had the trial court been presented with a motion for a new trial, it would have evaluated the evidence and the applicability of the Castle Doctrine.

“Based on the evidence at trial, a personable probability exists that the trial court would have found that the overwhelming weight of the evidence showed that Woods was in a place where he had the right to be; Pierre was the immediate provoker and aggressor and Woods was not engaged in any unlawful activity.”

District attorney Ronnie Harper said he disagrees with the higher court’s ruling, but said he is confident another trial would not change their decision.

“It was apparent to us … they were in mind that this was a Castle Doctrine case,” he said. “We’re confident that we would not change the Supreme Court’s decision even if the jury were to convict him a second time.”

Harper said a nolle prosequi motion had been filed Thursday for the charge of second-degree murder with Sixth District Circuit Judge Lillie B. Sanders.

Woods has ongoing charges, including possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, Harper said. However, a trial date had not been set as of Thursday.

Records show that Woods had been convicted twice in August 1994 — once for attempted robbery and once for robbery — for which he had been sentenced to 15 years for each conviction and actually served at least one year in the state penitentiary.