State Supreme Court upholds death sentence for man who confessed to the Sun Herald

Timothy Evans
Timothy Evans

The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed the death sentence for a Hancock County man convicted of strangling and robbing his landlady then dumping her body in the woods.

A majority of the state’s nine justices rejected an appeal by 60-year-old Timothy Nelson Evans, who was convicted of killing Wenda Holling, 70, at her home in Kiln. The murder occurred in 2010. A jury found Evans guilty in 2013.

A majority of justices rejected the 10 points Evans raised on appeal, including questions about whether he had properly been found mentally competent to stand trial. Justice Jim Kitchens disagreed with the majority, saying Evans' sentence should be reversed because of errors during the trial.

Not long after he was arrested, Evans mailed a five-page letter to the Sun Herald in which he confessed and detailed how he committed the crime.

Despite the letter and a follow-up interview in which he restated his confession to the Sun Herald and to investigators, Evans pleaded not guilty on the advice of his attorney. The jury convicted him after just two hours of deliberation.

Evans lived with Holling for about two years until she was reported missing on Jan. 5, 2010. Her remains were found about three weeks later on Jan. 26, 2010, on Turan Road, just north of East Wortham Road in Harrison County.

Court records show the two had previously been romantically involved, but Evans was living in her home as a tenant when he strangled her.

During the initial investigation, Evans reportedly told authorities he thought Holling had gone to Florida with friends. However, investigators found he had used Holling's credit card after her death.

In his letter to the Sun Herald, Evans said he killed Holling on Jan. 2, three days before her family reported her missing to Hancock County authorities.

Two days later he dumped her body about 20 feet off Turan Road, returning twice to the scene to bury her. But each time he returned, someone was near the area, so he was unable to complete the task, he said.