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EDWARD J. C. STEVENS v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

OCTOBER 17, 1984

EDWARD J. C. STEVENS
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE WALKER, ROY NOBLE LEE AND PRATHER

PRATHER, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

The appellant, Edward J. C. Stevens, was charged with and convicted of murder of his wife, Louise Stevens in the Circuit Court of Neshoba County and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Stevens appeals, assigning as error:

(1) The admission of appellant's confession where his mental, physical and intoxicated condition allegedly prevented a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent waiver of his privilege against self-incrimination and right to counsel;

 (2) The admission of photographs depicting the inside of appellant's home and the body of the deceased;

 (3) The granting of the State's "malice aforethought" instruction;

 (4) The refusal of the appellant's manslaughter instructions.

 We affirm.

 I.

 On the morning of February 5, 1982, appellant Edward J. C. Stevens, his wife Louise, and Louise's nephews, Tommy and Terry Wright, drank beer together. Around 11:00 a.m., Edward, Louise and Tommy drove to Phillip's Grocery in Lauderdale County to buy more beer. After purchasing two cases of beer, Edward, Louise and Tommy returned to the appellant's home and continued drinking. Around 2:00 that afternoon, Terry picked Tommy up from the appellant's house. Appellant Stevens and Louise remained at the house drinking beer.

 Around 8:00 p.m. that evening, appellant carried his badly beaten wife to the Neshoba County Hospital. Louise had been dead for two or three hours. Her death was the result of massive blood loss resulting from multiple bruises and

 abrasions to her entire body and deep lacerations of her scalp and labia.

 Appellant was placed in custody at the Union City Jail. A blood alcohol test performed on the appellant at 8:15 p.m. revealed a blood alcohol content of .16. While at the Union City Jail, appellant fell from his bed and hit his head on the bars of his cell and suffered a broken arm. Dr. Wm. Davis, who treated the appellant, testified that the appellant appeared malnourished, emaciated, smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech, but was not irrational or disoriented. Following treatment of his injuries, the appellant was transported to the Neshoba County Jail.

 Around 11:30 p.m. that evening, Neshoba County Sheriff J. A. Phillips read appellant Stevens his rights. Stevens signed a statement waiving his right to counsel and privilege against self-incrimination. On this occasion, appellant's speech was slurred, and his gait suggested that he was under the influence of alcohol. Appellant complained that his arm hurt and cried about his wife being dead, but otherwise made no statement and was returned to his cell.

 The following morning, February 6, 1982, Sheriff Phillips was notified at 7:00 a.m. that the appellant wished to speak to him. Around 9:55 a.m. Sheriff Phillips, accompanied by Deputy Sheriff Dwight Griffin, and Investigator Larry Myers, spoke with appellant Stevens at the jail. Phillips again informed appellant of his rights, and appellant signed another waiver form. Stevens then told the sheriff that on the previous day, he, Louise and Tommy Wright went to Lauderdale County to buy beer, then returned to his home. Louise accused the appellant of "going with somebody" . The appellant accused Louise of "going with somebody" . Louise told the appellant that she "wanted to go with three men" and named them. The appellant became enraged and chased his wife throughout the house, beating her repeatedly with a firepoker. According to Deputy Sheriff Dwight Griffin, at the time of his statement, appellant's speech and walk appeared normal.

 Prior to trial, appellant moved to suppress the statement on the ground that it was obtained from the appellant without a voluntary, knowing and intelligent waiver of the right to counsel and the privilege against self-incrimination. This motion was overruled and Sheriff Phillips was permitted to testify to the contents of the statement at trial.

 At the trial, appellant Stevens testified that, after Tommy and Terry Wright left their house, he and Louise continued to drink. Later that afternoon he left the house to

 buy more beer. When he returned, he found his severely beaten wife lying on the floor of the living room, but did not realize that she was dead. Stevens drove to Tommy Wright's house and asked for his help but was told by Tommy that he didn't want to get involved. Stevens then returned to his house, placed his wife in the car and drove to the Neshoba County Hospital.

 Terry Wright testified that appellant came to his house at around 8:00 p.m. on February 5, 1982. According to Terry, appellant Stevens did not ask for any help getting Louise to the hospital, but offered Terry ...


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