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Sunday, August 6th 2006

11:22 PM

another article


Simpson out on bond

Thursday, July 27, 2006
BY ROYCE ARMSTRONG

The Mississippi Press

LUCEDALE -- Patricia Simpson, 57, convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of her husband, exchanged her orange prison jumpsuit for street clothes after a bail hearing Wednesday.

Simpson will be out of jail pending an appeal.

Simpson was convicted of shooting her husband, Donald Simpson, 64, in the chest on Dec. 22, 2003, in the couple's home.

The verdict came last week after a weeklong trial in which Simpson waived her right to a jury trial, leaving her fate in the hands of Circuit Judge Dale Harkey.

Harkey reduced the murder charge, determining that she was guilty of manslaughter, committed in the heat of passion. He sentenced her to 20 years in prison late Friday afternoon. Simpson was sentenced to 15 years with the last five years in post-release supervision.

Monday morning a hearing was held where the defense filed motions before Harkey in Pascagoula, asking for a new trial, claiming the judge did not consider all of the evidence in the case.

Harkey denied the motion.

The defense then filed a motion for an appeal, which was granted.

With the appeal process started, defense attorney Calvin Taylor asked Harkey to release Simpson on post conviction bail, pending her appeal.

Harkey set bail at $75,000. Simpson was required to pay only 10 percent of that amount, or $7,500 to get out of jail.

The victim's daughter, Tanya Miller testified in the hearing, saying that she did not feel five days in jail was long enough for Simpson to reflect on what she had done.

"I feel slighted by the legal system in Mississippi," Miller said. "I do not feel slighted by the judge. I do not think that he had a choice in the matter."

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Bradley called Eddie Tompkins, Simpson's first husband, to testify. Tompkins told the judge that during their marriage, his ex-wife had put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. He said the only reason he survived was because he had feared she might shoot him, and had filed down the firing pin about a month earlier.

Simpson told the judge that she was not a violent person and that she had endured physical abuse during her marriage to Tompkins.

Taylor had no comment on the case except to say that the judge was obligated to set bail under Mississippi law. The applicable statutes permit release on bail so long as the defendant has not been sentenced to life in prison or sentenced to death.

Harkey established conditions for bail, saying that Simpson cannot possess a firearm, that she cannot have any contact with the victim's family and that she remain in Jackson County.

"We objected to the motion to allow Mrs. Simpson be released on bail," said Assistant District Attorney Brice Wiggins. "We provided testimony against her release and we stand by our objection."

Taylor said Simpson will be free on bail for anywhere from nine months to two years. He said there are a number of legal steps that must be taken before her case reaches the Mississippi Supreme Court.

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