Decisions – COA – April 5, 2016

In the Interest of E.G., a Minor: Betty Lewis v. Jackson County Youth Court adjudication of sexually abused child –  In February 2013, thirteen-year-old Elizabeth told a classmate that her stepfather Phil Lewis had sexually abused her.  DHS filed a request with the youth court to order the child into DHS custody, which was granted, and DHS removed Elizabeth from the physical custody of her mother, Betty Lewis, along with two other children in the home.  The youth court adjudicated Elizabeth to be a sexually abused child. Betty appeals and argues that the youth court’s ruling lacks sufficient evidentiary support. She also argues that that the court erred in not allowing her to introduce her expert psychologist’s report in lieu of his testifying live and the court’s refusal to allow her to introduce statements allegedly made by Elizabeth on Twitter.  The COA affirms.

Barbara Jones v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, Faron Cabler, Store Manager and Thomas F. Koppe, Safety Manager   premises liability – Barbara Jones alleges that “she tripped and fell in a pothole/crack” in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart on Highway 49 in Gulfport.  The trial court granted summary judgment for Wal Mart.  The COA affirms. “In this case, Wal-Mart argues that it is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law because Jones herself cannot say that the crack at issue caused her fall; because there is no evidence that the store or its employees had actual or constructive knowledge of the crack; and because the crack simply was not a dangerous condition.”

Wesley Gene Patrick v. Catherine Ann Patrick – attorneys fees/GAL fees –  Wesley and Catherine were married in 2009, had a  daughter in 2011 and separated in 2012. Both sought custody of the child and after Wesley claimed Catherine abused and/or neglected the girl, a GAL was appointed. The chancellor  found that both Wesley and Catherine were unfit to have custody of their child and gave custody to DHS. Wesley  appeals the division of the marital estate, the award of attorney’s fees to  Catherine and the court’s order requiring him to pay all fees of the guardian ad litem who was appointed to investigate his allegations that Catherine had neglected or abused their child – allegations the Court held were unfounded.  The COA affirms.

Kimberly Ann Whitehead  v. State of Mississippi – possession of precursors – Whitehead was charged and convicted of  possession of precursors with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance after law enforcement received a tip that meth was being manufactured in the mobile home where she lived with her grandmother. Also in the home was Whitehead’s boyfriend.  Officers found materials associated with the manufacture of meth and arrested Whitehead and her boyfriend. At trial, the boyfriend and Whitehead both testified that the meth was entirely the boyfriend’s.  Whitehead was convicted anyway.  On appeal, Whitehead challenges the sufficiency of teh evidence as well as the validity of the search.  The COA affirms.

David Lee Lewis  v. State of Mississippi exclusion of evidence of drug use by victim  – Lewis was convicted of  aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by a felon after he shot his girlfriend’s cousin McQuirter. Lewis’s sole issue on appeal is that the trial court erred in excluding his  testimony that McQuirter was high on drugs at the time of the assault. The trial court found that the testimony was inadmissable because: (1) Lewis had no personal knowledge of any cocaine use byMcQuirter on the day of the incident; (2) Lewis’s testimony was speculative and unsupported by any other testimony; and (3) any relevance of the testimony was outweighed by its prejudicial effects. Lewis alleges that the exclusion of this testimony prevented him from adequately portraying his state of mind at the time of the assault, limiting his ability to create a meaningful argument of self-defense.   The COA affirms.

Jessie Freeman v. State of Mississippi – exclusion of expert testimony re:  victim’s drug use – Freeman was convicted of manslaughter and depraved heart murder.  He and his girlfriend Lenora had argued and he tracked her down to the parking lot of a Jackson motel where she was in a truck with another man Ramsey. Lenora and the man sped away but Freeman fired shots into their vehicle killing them both.   On appeal he argues that the trial court erred “by refusing to allow his expert to testify that methamphetamine use causes violent behavior. Freeman’s theory of the case was that he shot Ramsey in self-defense. Freeman argues that Ramsey was under the influence of methamphetamine, which caused Ramsey to act aggressively by exhibiting a gun; thus, Freeman had to defend himself and his daughter [who was in the car with Freeman].”  The COA affirms distingushing his case from others where such evidence was admitted. “Freeman’s case differs from both Byrd and Newell because the jury was able to hear from {the medical examiner]  that Ramsey tested positive for methamphetamine and from Freeman that Ramsey’s methamphetamine use caused him to appear ‘wild-eyed and crazy looking’ and have a short temper. Furthermore, the cited cases do not concern the testimony of an expert linking drug use and behavior.”

 

Deanna Kaye Patrick  v. James Dewey Boyd and Brittany Paige Raines custody – “Brittany Raines and James Boyd had a son, Hayden, when they were only sixteen years old. In July 2008, when Hayden was less than one year old, James was in the middle of a one-year prison term, and Brittany’s life was so unstable that she voluntarily relinquished temporary custody of Hayden to her mother, Deanna Patrick. Thereafter, Brittany and James remained at least somewhat involved in Hayden’s young life, but James’s probation was revoked, which led to another year of incarceration, and Deanna’s “temporary” custody of Hayden stretched into a fourth year. In April 2012, James was released from jail, he found steady employment and avoided criminal activity, and he and Brittany eventually moved into a house of their own and had a second child, a daughter. They have also maintained regular visitation with Hayden, and in June 2013 they filed a petition for custody of him. Deanna opposed the petition, believing that it was in Hayden’s best interest to remain with her. Following a hearing in July 2014, the chancellor awarded custody to James and Brittany. Deanna appeals, but we find no reversible error and affirm.”

Pro se PCR appeal affirmed:

Johnny Holton v. State of Mississippi

 

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