Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

DONALD WILLIAM DUFOUR v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

JUNE 06, 1984

DONALD WILLIAM DUFOUR
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



EN BANC

BOWLING, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Appellant Donald William Dufour was indicted by the Grand Jury of the First Judicial District of Hinds County for the crime of capital murder of Earl Wayne Peeples. The indictment charged that Peeples was killed while Dufour was engaged in the commission of the crime of robbery, the alleged offense having occurred during the early morning hours of October 14, 1982. In a bifurcated trial, the jury found appellant guilty of capital murder and, after a sentencing hearing, the jury found that appellant should be sentenced to death. Other than hereinafter discussed corroborating evidence, the principal evidence submitted by the state to the jury was that of Robert Taylor, an admitted companion of Dufour, who, according to his testimony, engaged in the murdering activities when Peeples and another man named King were killed with knives and screwdrivers.

Taylor's testimony revealed that he and Dufour arrived in Jackson around midnight on October 13, 1982. Dufour was driving and Taylor had been asleep for a number of hours on the back seat of the vehicle. They had come from Florida by way of Georgia. According to Taylor, when he awakened, the car was in front of what was reputed to be a "gay bar" named "The Other Side Lounge." Dufour preceded Taylor into the bar. When Taylor went therein, he was informed by Dufour that they were going to rob two men. They were pointed out to Taylor by Dufour and later developed to be Peeples and King. Shortly after 1:00 a.m., the four hereinbefore described individuals, along with a 16-year-old male, who had accompanied Peeples and King to the bar, drove away in Peeples' car to what is known as Windsor Park Apartments on West Capitol Street in Jackson. When the group reached the apartment complex, the sixteen-year-old male, who lived with his family in the complex, went directly to his home. One item of corroborating evidence was the testimony from this sixteen-year-old regarding his accompanying Peeples and King to the bar and his returning with them and Dufour and Taylor to the apartment complex. He positively testified that the four were on the way to Peeples' apartment when he left them to go to his family's apartment.

 Taylor then testified in much detail, the majority of which we shall not repeat here. As soon as the four men entered Peeples' apartment, they began undressing. Taylor decided to go into the apartment kitchen and look for weapons to use in the robbery. He found knives and screwdrivers in drawers. Then, in order to create a

 diversion, he threw a mug of water against the wall and broke it. Upon Peeples and King entering the kitchen, a knife was given to Dufour by Taylor. Dufour then grabbed Peeples and Taylor grabbed King. According to Taylor, he saw Dufour immediately stab Peeples at least three times in the chest. Taylor was stabbing King in the chest with a screwdriver.

 After it appeared Peeples and King were dead, Dufour instructed Taylor to take a shower to remove the blood on him. This Taylor did, after which he saw that the pockets of Peeples' pants had been turned wrong side out and that appellant Dufour was placing articles on a bedspread and folding the bedspread so that it could be carried.

 Shortly before Peeples received the stabbing blows from Dufour, Taylor heard Dufour demand information as to the location of Peeples' money. Taylor heard him tell Dufour that it was in the trunk of his car.

 Dufour and Taylor left the apartment, got in Peeples' car and drove away. About a mile from the apartment complex they were on what is known as Dixon Road, when Dufour told Taylor, who was driving, to pull off the road to ascertain what they had. Taylor pulled off too far and the car became stuck in the wet ground. It could not become unstuck. Dufour then opened the trunk of the vehicle and stated that he found nothing of value therein. Dufour then took the folded up bedspread across and down Dixon Road and put it in a ditch. He then instructed Taylor to go back to the apartment complex and secure the car owned by King that was parked there. Taylor was on the way back to the apartment, walking at a fast pace or running on West Capitol Street, when he was observed by a city policeman. Taylor was stopped by the patrolman, who was suspicious of Taylor hurrying along Capitol Street on a cool night, barefooted and wearing no other clothes, except pants. Taylor was taken to the city jail, where it was ascertained that he was wanted in Florida for the alleged crime of armed robbery. He was therefore held in jail.

 It suffices to say that a reading of Taylor's testimony shows a very detailed account of the events leading up to and surrounding the murder of Peeples, whom Dufour is accused of killing.

 Evidence from the Jackson Police Department reveals that during the early morning of October 15, they were contacted by members of King's family with information

 that he could not be found by them, but that they understood he was supposed to visit Peeples in Jackson. Policemen went to the Windsor Park Apartments and found King's car parked in the parking lot of the apartment complex. They then contacted the manager, who opened the Peeples' apartment door and found the two bodies and the situation that existed in the apartment when, according to Taylor, he and Dufour left. The police conducted their usual on-site investigation duties through the crime lab, including taking photographs.

 From the history of the place and the manner of Taylor's arrest on the early morning hours of October 14, the police questioned him in a proper manner, and he admitted his involvement in the murder. It should be stated here that during all of the time involved in the history of this cause, subsequent to Taylor's arrest, he was represented by a court-appointed, competent and reputable attorney.

 Corroborating evidence included the testimony of police officials, who found Peeples' car where it was stuck on Dixon Road and who also found the folded up bedspread, which revealed that everything had been removed therefrom except for one penny.

 We need briefly to discuss the evidence presented by the appellant Dufour. He testified that after staying in the gay lounge for a relatively short time, he went to the car that was parked on the street nearby, got on the backseat and went to sleep. He stated he did not wake up until sometime the next morning. He did not have means to drive the vehicle, as Taylor had the keys. After waiting most of the morning for Taylor to appear, Dufour stated he went to McDonald's and ate a hamburger. He then secured a paper shopping bag from a store and went back to the car. After putting some pants and shirts in the shopping bag, together with a "scuba diving knife" , he found a run-down boarding house in the area and arranged to stay there and receive board and lodging, if he would take care of an aged invalid, who resided at the house. According to Dufour, the next day he read in the newspaper about Taylor having been arrested. He then learned that Taylor had implicated him in the homicides.

 Dufour then testified that after learning of his being wanted, he went to a barber school and had his normally black hair dyed blonde and cut shorter, explaining that he was on parole and was in the wrong state and therefore did not want to be arrested. He stayed in seclusion at

 the boarding house until the night of October 29, 1982, when a young acquaintance invited him to go to the same gay bar, where the acquaintance would buy him some beer. They went to the bar and while there, at about 11:30 p.m. Dufour was arrested by city policemen.

 One Roger Harris related during the course of the state's evidence the manner in which Dufour's identification and arrest took place. Harris was a part-owner and the security guard at the lounge. He testified that he was present on the night of October 13 and the early morning hours of the 14th, when Taylor and Dufour were there. According to Harris, he had to call Dufour down on more than one occasion for improper conduct and had occasion to talk with Dufour.

 On the night of October 29, Harris, while close to Dufour, recognized Dufour's voice as one he had heard before and identified him in his own mind as Dufour, even though his hair had been dyed. Harris called the police and managed to keep Dufour occupied until the police arrived.

 The defendant introduced evidence from a lady who worked in a business establishment next door to the gay bar. She testified that on the early morning of October 14, she saw a young man asleep on the back seat of a strange car with Georgia license plates parked in front of the business. She observed the young man get out of the car on occasions during the course of the morning and sit in the car for periods of time as if he were waiting for someone.

 Appellant submits seven assignments of error as follows:

 I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN REFUSING THE APPELLANT'S REQUEST TO HIRE AN INVESTIGATOR.

 II. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN EXCUSING FOR CAUSE JAMIE HONEYCUTT BECAUSE OF HER BELIEFS REGARDING THE DEATH PENALTY.

 III. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN EXCUSING FOR CAUSE PAMELA SUMMERS IN VIOLATION OF THE WITHERSPOON RULE.

 IV. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN REFUSING TO EXCLUDE GERALD H. BAGWELL FOR CAUSE.

 V. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING

 CERTAIN PICTURES DEPICTING THE DECEASED IN GRUESOME ASPECT, WHICH PICTURES WERE CUMULATIVE, AND NO OTHER PURPOSE THAN TO INFLAME THE JURY AGAINST THE DEFENDANT, AND CONNECTED THE DEFENDANT WITH ANOTHER CRIME FOR WHICH HE WAS NOT BEING TRIED.

 VI. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING PICTURES OF SCREWDRIVERS NOT USED IN THE COMMISSION OF THE CRIME.

 VII. THE STATE FAILED TO PROVE THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF THE CRIME OF ROBBERY.

 ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. I.

 Appellant, through his attorneys, filed a motion requesting the state to furnish funds to hire an investigator to aid in the preparation of appellant's defense. An evidentiary hearing was had on this motion. An investigator was presented as a witness, who testified that an investigation involving such a charge as that against appellant would cost somewhere between $2,000 and $6,000.

 The motion was overruled by the trial court. In overruling the motion, it was stated that all the motions and arguments requested a "carte blanche" authority to hire an investigator. A reading of the motion and evidence shows nothing concrete in the way of investigation that had been planned either in Mississippi or Florida. No proposed names, locations or investigative possibilities were pointed out to the court. The hearing revealed nothing that was unusual to any other charge similar to that against appellant.

 In Davis v. State, 374 So.2d 1293 (Miss. 1979), we held that the determination of furnishing the indigent accused any expert, other than psychiatric or other mental experts, would be made on a case by case basis. This was reiterated in Bullock v. State, 391 So.2d 601 (Miss. 1980). Other jurisdictions have held that an accused is not entitled to an investigator at public expense. See Hager v. State, 665 P.2d 319, (Ok. 1983); People (of the State of Illinois) v. Veal, 443 N.E. 2d 605, (Ill App. 1982), State v. Carroll, 629 S.W.2d 483 (Mo. App. 1981).

 There is no merit to Assignment of Error No. I.

 ASSIGNMENTS NO. II AND III.

 Under Assignments No. II and III, appellant contends that the lower court committed reversible error in refusing two jurors for cause; namely, panel jurors Jamie Honeycutt and Pamela Summers. We first discuss Jamie Honeycutt. The voir dire examination of the jury panel consumes 210 pages of the record before us. On the 166th page, we first find reference to Ms. Honeycutt. Needless to say the court and the state at that point had extensively examined the prospective jurors on a number of subjects, both general and specific. At the time Ms. Honeycutt appears in the picture, the topic involved whether or not each juror could return a death penalty verdict in the bifurcated trial when the guilt of the accused was based almost exclusively on the testimony of a co-perpetrator of the alleged murder. The district attorney had completed interrogating one jury panel member, when the record shows he, for the first time, addressed Ms. Honeycutt by saying "I am going to wait you out now, Ms. Honeycutt." Any member of the bar, experienced in courtroom observations, knows that some action of Ms. Honeycutt not shown in the record, resulted in this type of introduction to Ms. Honeycutt. Whatever that was is not material, except to emphasize that the interrogation of Ms. Honeycutt was being conducted by the state in regard to the extent of evidence she would require before returning a death penalty verdict.

 In answer to the district attorney's statement, Ms. Honeycutt said, "I would have to have a lot of evidence before giving somebody the death penalty." The next question by the district attorney was, "Do you feel that probably you could not vote for the death penalty based on a co-defendant's testimony?" Ms. Honeycutt answered "Right." Then the district attorney said, "Thank you for your honesty, ma'am."

 The only other time that Ms. Honeycutt appears in the picture is after 185 pages of the voir dire. At this point, the record clearly shows that the individual jury panel members were being interrogated regarding accusations of crime against members of their families or close friends. This specific interrogation had been going on for a number of pages. Ms. Honeycutt was reached on this point and the following occurred:

 BY MR. PETERS: Mrs. Honeycutt.

 BY THE COURT: First of all, Mrs. Honeycutt, just tell me who it was that was charged or convicted of an offense and what relationship were they to you.

 BY MRS. HONEYCUTT: It was just a friend. It was George Malvaney.

 BY THE COURT: And where did this take place?

 BY MRS. HONEYCUTT: In New Orleans.

 BY THE COURT: Do you know anything about the facts and circumstances surrounding the charge.

 BY MRS. HONEYCUTT: A little bit, not much.

 BY THE COURT: Do you know whether or not he committed the offense?

 BY MRS. HONEYCUTT: He ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.