In 2000, Walter L. Hodge, Anthony Thomas, and Archie Kelley were congregated at Kelley’s grandmother’s house in the town of Edwards, Second Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi. Believing that Thomas was a “snitch,” Hodge lured Thomas to a nearby field. While in the field, the three headed toward a pond whereupon Hodge shot Thomas.
Three shots were fired with two shots hitting Thomas. The autopsy concluded that the cause of death was the gunshot wound to the back leading to an accumulation of blood in the chest cavity thereby causing Thomas to bleed to death.
The next day, Hodge’s brother, Maurice, and Larry Mosby informed Chief Louis Johnson of the Edwards Police Department that they had discovered a body in the field. Hodge had told his brother that he had shot Thomas. Johnson informed the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department which began its investigation shortly thereafter. Johnson and other officers then traveled to Hodge’s residence and met him as he drove up to the house. Hodge then told Johnson he heard that the police were looking for him. Hodge was arrested at that time.
After the arrest, Hodge was asked about the weapon that was used to kill Thomas. He indicated that he would take authorities to where it was hidden. About 200 to 300 yards from where Hodge was arrested the police found a Lorcin .380 under a recliner in a wooded area. Ballistics testing concluded that the projectile removed from Thomas and the three casings found on the scene came from the .380 Lorcin handgun to which Hodge led authorities.
That same day Hodge gave and signed a voluntary confession to Steve Bailey, a Hinds County investigator. Bailey testified that Hodge told him that he was mad at Thomas for telling Chief Johnson about a burglary, so he convinced Thomas to go out to this field outside of Edwards on the pretense of shooting at some cows or shoot some cows and that when he got out there, he shot him in the back and shot him a couple more times after he laid on the ground.
Hodge was convicted of murder and sentenced to life. On appeal, he argued the confession was the only evidence against him. MSC affirmed.
Contrary to Hodge’s contentions, the guilty verdict rendered by the jury was not supported solely by his confession. We are mindful that a defendant’s confession that is not corroborated by independent evidence of the corpus delicti is insufficient to support a felony conviction. However, other evidence adduced at trial supports the guilty verdict.
First of all, Hodge led authorities to the location of a .380 Lorcin when asked for the weapon that was used to murder Anthony Thomas. Dr. Haynes removed a large caliber copper jacketed bullet from Thomas’s body that was later matched by firearms examiner Starks Hathcock to the very .380 Lorcin to which Hodge led authorities.
Hathcock also testified that the three shell casings found at the scene were fired from the .380 Lorcin. This evidence when combined with Hodge’s confession sufficiently establishes the corpus delicti and justifies the jury’s guilty verdict. Hodge’s assignment of error is without merit.