Conviction affirmed in Quitman County hedge-clipper killing

JACKSON, Miss. — The Mississippi Court of Appeals is affirming the murder conviction of a man who told police that he helped kill someone who owed him money for yard work they did together.

According to court documents, James Lee Johnson III said his lawyer proved “ineffective” when they failed to request an expert to review the evidence against him, show the jury how forthcoming he was with officers or give the jury any theory of a defense.

Appeals court judges rejected the argument saying there’s nothing in the trial records to support his claim.

Johnson , now 21, was convicted in Quitman County in 2016 and is serving a life sentence.

Court records show Johnson told investigators different versions of what happened the day Curtis Mumford was killed in June 2015.

Johnson said Mumford owed him $20 because they had cut a neighbor’s grass. Johnson told investigators that he and another man killed Mumford. He said he fought with Mumford and the other man stabbed Mumford with hedge clippers.

A pathologist testified Mumford was killed by sharp-force injuries.