Supreme Court vacates firearm enhancement, but confirms remaining sentence for two convicted of 2018 Stewpot drive by shooting
Published 11:06 am Friday, January 19, 2024
NATCHEZ — The Mississippi Supreme Court vacated the firearm enhancement of two people convicted of murdering Tavonte White and Alicia Justice in a drive-by shooting on Nov. 9, 2018, near the Stewpot.
However, it affirmed the life sentence given to each for the murders.
Jameco Davis and Jacqlaurence Jackson were convicted on two counts each of first-degree murder in Sixth District Circuit Court Judge Debra W. Blackwell’s courtroom in Adams County on June 24, 2022.
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After a guilty verdict from a jury, Blackwell sentenced each to life in prison and added a firearm enhancement of five years for each count to their sentences.
Each appealed their sentence, claiming the firearms enhancement was illegal, that the trial court did not follow proper procedure and that the verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence.
Further, Jackson claimed in his appeal that Blackwell erred in not separating his trial from Davis’s.
The court agreed with the firearm enhancement portions of the sentences and vacated those, but found that all other issues were without merit.
On Nov. 18, 2018, Natchez Police responded to a call of a black Honda Accord that had crashed into a cement wall in the parking lot of the Stewpot at the corner of Auburn Avenue and East Franklin streets.
There, they found the dead bodies of Tavonte White in the driver’s seat and Alicia Justice in the passenger seat inside the vehicle. Each had suffered multiple gunshot wounds. Multiple bullet holds had entered the passenger side of the vehicle and exited the driver’s side of the vehicle.
Police obtained surveillance footage from multiple cameras located near the scene and identified the vehicle from which the bullets were fired as a silver and gray 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt.
In February 2021, Kendarrius Davis was in the Adams County Jail undergoing questioning about a separate incident. During an interview with investigators, Davis confessed to having information about the murder of White and Justice.
Davis told the NPD investigator that he was riding around Natchez in a car with Makaileus Johnson, Jameco Davis and Jacqlaurence Jackson when they spotted White and began shooting at the vehicle.
The court said the investigator believed K. Davis’s statement because he knew information that only someone at the scene could have known, which side of the car the bullets had entered and the names and calibers of weapons that matched the recovered shell casings.
Warrants were issued for Jackson and Jameco Davis.
Jackson denied any involvement in the crime and claimed to be with his girlfriend on the night of the crime. Jameco Davis also denied any involvement in the crime and claimed to have been in Texas during the time of the killings.
However, when the investigator showed Jameco Davis an Instagram video made on the day of the shooting showing him and Kendarrius Davis together and bragging about the crime, J. Davis admitted it was he in the video but denied any involvement in the shooting.
On Oct. 10, 2021, Kendarrius Davis recanted his original statement implicating Jameco Davis and Jackson. Instead, he offered up the names of three others as being responsible for killing White and Justice. On March 7, 2022, Kendarrius Davis recanted his Oct. 10, 2021, recantation, claiming he did so because he feared for his life.
On March 7, 2022, Kendarrius Davis, Jameco Davis and Jackson were each indicted for one count of first-degree murder for Justice and one count of first-degree murder of White, and a count each for using or displaying a firearm during the commission of the offense.
Jameco Davis and Jackson were tried together on June 22 through 24, 2022, and Kendarrius Davis pleaded guilty and testified against them at trial.
Kendarrius Davis testified he was “chilling, riding and smoking” in Natchez with Jackson, Jameco Davis, and Makaileus Johnson, who is now deceased.
Kendarrius Davis said Jackson was driving, the late Johnson was in the front passenger’s seat and Jameco Davis was behind the driver’s seat and Kendarrius was behind the front passenger’s seat.
Kendarrius said he noticed that Jameco Davis had an assault rifle and that Johnson had a pistol.
During the ride, Jackson saw White, who was nicknamed Bleek, in a car driving near them. Kendarrius Davis said he heard Jackson say, “There go Bleek.” Jackson proceeded to speed up and Jameco Davis and Johnson began shooting into White’s vehicle.
Kendarrius Davis testified he did not personally witness Jameco Davis firing the gun because he dropped to the floor of the car when the shooting began.
A jury found Jameco Davis and Jackson guilt of two counts of first-degree murder. They were both sentenced to life in prison. Blackwell added a firearm enhancement to both sentences, adding an additional five years for each count of first degree murder that would run consecutive to the life sentences and consecutive to each enhancement.
On July 1, 2022, Jameco Davis filed a motion for a new trial. On July 5, 2022, Jackson filed a motion for a new trial, or in the alternative, for a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.
Both motions were denied by Judge Blackwell.
When it reached the state’s Supreme Court, it consolidated the appeals and retained jurisdiction.
The Supreme Court vacated the firearm enhancement. The minimum and maximum sentence is imprisonment for life, which is greater than the five years provided for each count of the firearm enhancement, the court said.
Other issues raised were affirmed, that evidence supports the verdict.