JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Dante Lamar Evans claims a Harrison County judge wouldn't let him tell a jury that he feared for his life at the hands of an abusive parent when at the age of 14 he shot and killed his father.
Now he'll get his chance.
The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday threw out his murder conviction and ordered a new trial. At the same time, the Supreme Court ordered the trial judge to let Evans hire an expert to make that argument for him.
Evans was convicted in 2009 of murdering his father, Darold Lee Evans, who prosecutors said was fatally shot in his sleep. The teen was sentenced to life in prison.
Prosecutors said Evans had moved to Biloxi to live with his father in a FEMA trailer park but decided to kill him because he was too strict.
Defense attorneys had sought an "imperfect self-defense" instruction to the jury. Prosecutors said — and the trial judge agreed — that a defense that the teen had an honest but unreasonable belief of danger was properly kept from the jury because there was no evidence to support it.
Justice David Anthony Chandler, writing Thursday, said Evans was entitled to an adequate expert to assist his defense.
Evans also claimed he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by his father's abuse of him and his mother. Court records showed Evans was hospitalized for depression in 2001 and was diagnosed with PTSD.
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