Capital murder conviction stands in Gautier killing, appeals court rules

Nicholas DeMorst
Nicholas DeMorst

The state Court of Appeals has upheld the capital murder conviction of Nicholas DeMorst, sentenced to life without parole for the robbery and killing of Hunter Miller in Gautier.

In a unanimous opinion, the 10-judge panel denied DeMorst’s appeal without prejudice to any future appeals.

DeMorst, 27, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the Jan. 14, 2014, robbery and fatal shooting. He was sentenced June 4, 2015, in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Miller, 26, was a popular waiter at The Hook Up restaurant in Biloxi. He was shot in the back in his car during an attempted prescription drug deal at Ladnier Road and University Street, according to court testimony. His car struck a fence at College Park Elementary School.

On appeal, DeMorst maintained the trial court had erred by failing to suppress “overly suggestive identification procedures” from in-court and out-of-court testimony that identified him as the shooter. The court disagreed.

He claimed jailhouse recordings, in which he and his girlfriend discussed alibis, should not have been submitted as evidence because they were “irrelevant.” The recordings included implications of an attempt to pay someone to provide DeMorst an alibi.

“Evidence that the defendant attempted to fabricate an alibi or to pay someone to falsely provide him with one is relevant and admissible as evidence of consciousness of guilt,” Judge Eugene Fair wrote.

DeMorst also claimed his attorney did not represent him effectively. For instance, he maintained his attorney did not introduce evidence to authenticate a Facebook post that raised uncertainty on whether he was the shooter. The court disagreed with that claim as well.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews