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Manslaughter ruling upheld upon appeal

The state Court of Appeals in Jackson has upheld the conviction of Xavier Vaughn in a 2007 fatal shooting in Lincoln County.

Vaughn was convicted of manslaughter in Lincoln County in 2009 in the shooting death of 23-year-old Billy Ray Miller of Wesson.

In his trial, Vaughn, 28 at the time, said he shot Miller in self-defense during an argument at a gathering.

The Appeals Court on Tuesday said an autopsy showed Miller was shot behind the right ear, and witnesses testified that Miller had his back to Vaughn when the shooting occurred.

In the 2009 trial in Lincoln County, Judge Mike Taylor sentenced Vaughn to 20 years, with 15 to serve, and to pay a fine of $3,000, court costs and to-be-determined restitution for Miller’s funeral expenses.

Vaughn had originally been facing a murder charge in the incident, but jurors chose instead to return a guilty verdict on the lesser offense of manslaughter.

When he was arrested, Vaughn had told police he had shot Miller in self-defense when Miller arrived uninvited to a wake with a large group of other men and sought a confrontation with Vaughn.

The prosecution in the 2009 trial contended that earlier confrontations in the day led Vaughn to go to a relative’s house and to pick up a gun, which they said he planned to use to kill Miller.

However, several members of Vaughn’s family begged the court for mercy.

District Attorney Dee Bates commented at the trial, “The only thing I can say to define this is that it’s a tragedy. We’ve got a 23-year-old man who is deceased, and now there’s another family destroyed too. But the jury did a good job of deliberating fairly, and we’re thankful for their service.”