HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence of a woman charged in connection to the deaths of two Hattiesburg police officers in 2015.
A jury found Joanie Calloway guilty of attempted accessory after the fact to capital murder and hindering prosecution in the deaths of officers Benjamin J. Deen and Liquori Tate, who were fatally shot during a traffic stop on May 9, 2015.
Calloway was sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempted accessory after the fact and five years for hindering prosecution, with the sentences to be served consecutively.
In an appeal, Calloway argued there was not enough evidence for the accessory after the fact conviction and that her sentence for the charge was unconstitutionally disproportionate. She also claimed that cumulative trial errors require a reversal.
Court documents said Deen stopped Calloway’s vehicle during a routine traffic stop before calling for backup from Tate on the evening of May 9. According to court documents, Calloway was traveling with three passengers. Her boyfriend, Marvin Banks, was sitting in the front passenger seat with two additional passengers sitting in the back seat of the car.
Dash camera footage shown during the trial showed Calloway and Banks moving around in the car. Deen told Tate that Calloway’s license was suspended and that the front passenger was putting something under his seat.
The officers ordered Calloway and Banks to step out of the car. Calloway obeyed the command. The video shows Banks hesitating. According to court documents, Banks then exited the car, grabbed a gun from underneath the seat and shot Deen and Tate.
Calloway then reportedly jumped back in the car and yelled for Banks to get in, but Banks continued shooting and Calloway drove off. She later told officers in interviews that she did not know the real names of the people she had given a ride to.
The Mississippi Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that there was sufficient evidence presented at trial to support the conviction for attempted accessory after the fact to capital murder and hindering prosecution in the first degree. The court said the sentence for attempted accessory was not disproportionate and no cumulative error occurred at the trial.
One judge concurred in part and dissented in part with a separate written opinion, with three other judges joining the opinion.
The opinion agreed with the majority’s affirmation of the conviction and sentence of hindering prosecution, but argued that there was insufficient evidence to convict Calloway of attempted accessory after the fact. Based on this, the opion argued that Calloway’s conviction and sentence for attempted accessory after the fact should be reversed.