February 7, 2018 10:53:01 AM
Isabelle Altman - [email protected]
The conviction of an Oktibbeha County woman found guilty of killing her husband in 2011 has been overturned.
Circuit Court Judge Lee Howard granted post-conviction relief for Verina Childs, 35, Monday after her attorney, Matt Kitchens of Crystal Springs, argued Childs was entitled to a new trial because in her first, the instructions the court gave to the jury did not list Oktibbeha County as the venue in which the crime took place.
Venue is defined as "the time and place charged in ... the indictment and testified about" in a criminal case, according to court documents. Last year, the Mississippi Court of Appeals ruled the failure of jury instructions to list venue as one of the elements of the offense is a reversible error, meaning it can be grounds for a new trial.
In Childs' case, Howard ruled that because venue is considered an "essential element of the criminal process ... it should be included as an essential element in jury instructions," according to circuit court documents.
Forrest Allgood was district attorney at the time.
Current District Attorney Scott Colom said he plans to appeal the decision to the Mississippi Supreme Court, arguing that in the case in which the Mississippi Court of Appeals made last year's ruling, the defendant had specifically requested venue be included in the jury instructions. In Childs' case, Childs and her attorney never requested venue be included, which Colom argued constituted her waiving that right. He said he wants the justices on the supreme court to "clarify the law."
He also pointed out Childs also never raised the issue of venue when she appealed the case after her conviction.
Colom has 10 days from the day Howard handed down his motion to appeal to the supreme court. In the meantime, a new trial for Childs has not been scheduled.
Childs' attorney did not return a call from The Dispatch by press time.
Childs was convicted of shooting her husband, Douglas Childs, in the back on a hunting trip in 2009. She was sentenced to life in prison, according to Mississippi Department of Corrections records.