A felon got 10 years for having a gun. Here’s why his conviction was reversed.

James Clarence McGlothin
James Clarence McGlothin

He was once one of South Mississippi’s most wanted criminals before his arrest on a possession of stolen firearms charge in August 2014.

But the Mississippi Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed the 2016 conviction handed down to James Clarence McGlothin.

In May 2014, the then 30-year-old man was under surveillance by the Coastal Narcotics Enforcement Team when he met with a criminal informant, according to criminal documents, so a warrant was executed so investigators could search the home in Harrison County where the meeting took place.

Members of the narcotics team entered the two-bedroom residence, and no one was home.

According to court documents, agents found women’s clothes in one bedroom and found a wallet containing McGlothin’s identification card, Social Security card and several casino player cards on top of a dresser in the other bedroom, along with a Titan.25 semiautomatic handgun in the pocket of a man’s jacket in the closet.

McGlothin’s grandmother, the homeowner, returned to the residence during the search and said that McGlothin did not live in the home.

The woman called her grandson and put him on the line with an agent, court documents say, and McGlothin promised to come to the home within 15 minutes but he never showed.

A warrant was issued for McGlothin’s arrest. In June 2014, he was placed on Sun Herald’s list of South Mississippi’s most-wanted criminal suspects. He was arrested in August.

On Aug. 3, 2016, a jury convicted McGlothin of being a felon in possession of a firearm in Harrison County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison as a habitual offender.

McGlothin appealed the conviction, arguing the state had failed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A circuit judge denied the motion, so McGlothin appealed the decision again.

On Tuesday, the appeals court reversed the conviction.

The appeals court agreed with McGlothin — the address on his identification card and other cards did not correlate with his grandmother’s address.

According to court documents, there were never any tests performed to show whether McGlothin’s fingerprints were on the gun.

The appeals court said the state failed to prove that McGlothin was “intentionally and consciously in possession of the weapon on the day charged.”

“The State offered no evidence to establish when the firearm was placed in the pocket of the jacket or any evidence that McGlothin had ever worn the jacket. There was simply no competent evidence offered to establish that McGlothin had dominion or control over the residence,” the appeals court said in its ruling.

Justin Mitchell: 228-604-0705, @JustinMitchell_