JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the conviction of a Louisiana man in the 2007 shooting death of an Arkansas businessman at the Isle of Capri casino hotel in Biloxi.
Weldon Leagea was sentenced to life in prison when he was convicted of capital murder in Harrison County in 2011.
Leagea and Chana Wells, both of Baton Rouge, were charged in the slaying of Jim Johnson III of Hot Springs, Ark.
Johnson was on a golfing vacation and when he failed to show up to play, Isle of Capri hotel security was called. Johnson was found dead in his hotel room.
Prosecutors said Johnson was killed during a robbery, which was used to support the charge of capital murder.
Wells pleaded guilty to armed robbery in the case and was sentenced to 20 years in prison without parole.
In his appeal, Leagea argued that jurors should have been allowed to consider whether they could find him guilty of murder or accessory after the fact. Leagea said the judge’s refusal to give jurors those options deprived him of his defense that Johnson was not killed during a robbery.
Appeals Court Judge Larry E. Roberts said in Tuesday’s opinion that there was ample evidence that Leagea attempted to rob Johnson. Roberts said the court record shows Wells testified that Leagea told her he would rob Johnson and that Leagea threatened Johnson with a gun and demanded money.
“There was no evidence to contradict the testimony that Leagea went into Johnson’s hotel room to rob him. And there was no evidence that Leagea simply planned to kill Johnson without robbing him,” Roberts said.
Roberts said Leagea offered no testimony to contradict what Wells said.