Mississippi woman convicted of murdering boyfriend found dead in freezer denied appeal on claims of insufficient evidence

Published 11:49 am Wednesday, January 17, 2024

The Mississippi Court of Appeals has denied a Mississippi woman’s efforts to overturn her 2022 conviction in the murder of her boyfriend, who was found zip-tied and padlocked in a freezer in 2018.

On Tuesday, the court denied a motion made by Samantha Simmons, 41, of Purvis, who claimed there was not enough evidence to convict her of the crime.

In 2018, a family member found the body of Thomas Burns inside a padlocked freezer, with zip ties around his ankles and a belt around his legs. After police were contacted, the body was sent to the State Crime Lab for analysis.

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Burns and Simmon reportedly lived together after the two met in 2018, only months after Burns’ wife had died. The two began dating, and Simmons eventually moved into Burns’s home.

In March 2018, neighbors grew concerned when Burns had not been seen outside the home for some time and after neighbors reported seeing a truck pulling a trailer from the home with several pieces of Burns’ furniture.

An analysis by the State Crime Lab found DNA from both Simmon and Burns on the zip ties that were found around Burns’s body in the freezer. Officers later found a key on Simmons’s key ring that fit the padlock that was used to lock the freezer containing Burns’s body.

Simmons argued that her DNA on the zip ties did not prove she killed Burns.

During the trial, a DNA expert stated that a ‘fair amount’ of Simmons’s DNA was found on the zip ties, which was called ‘surprising.’

“Usually, on this type of object, we don’t see that much DNA from an individual who just handled these items,” the expert was quoted to have said in the trial.

“This testimony, coupled with the DNA evidence, could lead a reasonable juror to conclude that Simmons killed Thomas,” Judge Latrice Westbrooks wrote in court documents.

“After a review of the record, we find that the state presented copious evidence to prove that [she] killed Thomas,” Westbrook wrote.

Simmons is sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years after being convicted on charges of first-degree murder and receiving stolen property.