At 10:00, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, the Mississippi Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Baxter v. State.
Baxter v. State COA opinion – – burden shifting instructions/ intellectual capacity and voluntariness of confession – In April 2010, Baxter pleaded guilty to two counts of manufacture and possession of a controlled substance. He skipped his sentencing hearing a few months later. A bench warrant was issued. When Baxter’s girlfriend was spotted in her truck with what appeared to be a passenger hiding in the seat next to her, a deputy pulled in behind her and the truck sped off. Other deputies joined the chase. Eventually the truck turned around, struck the sheriff (who later died from his injuries) and left the scene. No one could tell who was driving the truck. The next day both Baxter and his girlfriend were found hiding in a trailer. Baxter signed a Miranda waiver and admitted to being the driver and having “nudged” a deputy. Baxter was charged with capital murder but was considered too mentally challenged to qualify for the death penalty. Among the issues: 1) whether evidence of the pursuit should have been suppressed because of a lack of probable cause to make a traffic stop; 2) whether Baxter knowingly waived his Miranda rights given his mental deficits; 3) whether the indictment should have been dismissed because the girlfriend gave allegedly false testimony before the grand jury; 4) whether the venire should have been quashed because of statements made by prospective jurors during voir dire; 5) whether it was error to introduce Baxter’s April 2010 guilty plea; and 6) and whether a mistrial should have been ordered when the prosecution made a Caldwell argument (that an appellate court would review their decision), etc. The Court of Appeals affirms.
Baxter sought cert. “to resolve the conflict between the Court of Appeals’ ruling in this case and (1) that Court’s factual and legal rulings with respect to the same confusing, burden-shifting instruction in the companion case of Brandy Williams v State [Issue Nine]; (2) this Court’s opinion in Jennings v. State, 127 So. 3d 185 (Miss. 2013), which requires full consideration of a defendant’s intellectual disability in the determination whether a custodial statement is voluntary [Issue Two]; and (3) this Court’s Rule 404(b) caselaw [Issue Six].
Baxter’s supp. ptn.
State’s brief on cert.
Watch the argument here