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JAY BEE CUNNINGHAM v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

FEBRUARY 27, 1985

JAY BEE CUNNINGHAM
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE PATTERSON, SULLIVAN, ANDERSON AND SUGG

SUGG, RETIRED JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT: *fn1

Appellant was convicted in the Circuit Court of Hancock County, Honorable James Thomas presiding, for the crime of forcible rape. The jury fixed his punishment at life imprisonment and appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment. Appellant assigns as error the admission of hearsay testimony, the refusal of a defense instruction, and that the statutory scheme permitting life sentence for the crime of rape is unconstitutional.

The prosecutrix was traveling from her home in Louisiana to Biloxi to attend her sister's wedding. About 9 p.m. she had a flat tire on I-10 at milepost 11 inside the State of Mississippi. Prosecutrix was unable to change the tire because the lug nuts were rusted. She entered her automobile, locked all the doors, and rolled up all the windows, except the window on the driver's side. She went to sleep and awoke when appellant was standing outside her car with a knife in his hand. Appellant pulled her from the car and told her to get in the back seat and remove her pants. She refused, but was forced at knife point to enter the car and remove her clothes. Appellant raped her and after the rape, took her jewelry, watch, and $88, several cans of motor oil from the trunk of her car, the battery from the engine compartment of her car and siphoned some gas from her car, a 1964 Dodge, and put the gasoline into his car, a 1974 Thunderbird.

 Appellant forced the victim into his car and drove away with her in his car holding a knife to her neck. While they were driving, he drank wine at intervals. Shortly thereafter, appellant had a flat tire on his car. He ordered the prosecutrix into the back seat and raped her again at knifepoint. Shortly thereafter a truck stopped to render assistance and appellant instructed her that he was going to tell the driver of the truck that she was his wife and pregnant and not to contradict him. The flat tire from appellant's car was placed in the back of the truck and the truck driver proceeded with the prosecutrix sitting between him and the appellant. At this time, appellant held the knife behind her back, but later put the knife in his pants, warning her he had easy access to the knife and not to

 say anything to the truck driver.

 The prosecutrix tried to alert the driver that something was out of the ordinary, but was unable to get his attention. The truck driver stopped to consult a roadmap and the prosecutrix noted that the appellant was asleep. She jumped out of the truck on the driver's side, following the truck driver, and told him about the situation. The truck driver walked with her to the back of the truck stating that he would get help and they proceeded to walk toward a telephone. About that time a police car approached and stopped. The truck driver told the officers of the situation, the prosecutrix was placed in the officer's vehicle and the officers arrested appellant.

 Dennis Langford, a patrolman for the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, testified that he was one of the officers who stopped to render assistance to the truck driver. He testified in part, "and she notified us that the black male was in the truck with a weapon, she had been raped by him, and he was holding her hostage, and all." This testimony is the subject of the first assignment of error.

 The officer testified that he arrested appellant and found a knife stuck in the back of his pants in the middle of his back. He also testified that they removed three ladies' rings, a ladies' watch, and $25 in cash from appellant.

 The testimony of the prosecutrix was corroborated by physical evidence in several instances. She testified that when she was raped the second time on the back seat of appellant's automobile, he forced her to pull off her bra and panty girdle and when she dressed after the rape, the bra and panty girdle were left in appellant's automobile. An officer found the bra and girdle in appellant's automobile and these articles of clothing were identified by the prosecutrix at the trial.

 The prosecutrix testified that after appellant raped her the first time on the back seat of her car, he removed the console and keys to her car and threw them down the embankment. An officer testified he recovered the keys and the console at the place prosecutrix had testified the appellant had thrown them.

 The prosecutrix also testified that after appellant raped her the first time, he wiped his male organ

 with a blue shirt. The officer who found the keys testified he also found a blue shirt on the floorboard of prosecutrix' car. Joe E. Andrews, a forensic scientist, specializing in the area of hair and fiber identification, testified he examined the blue shirt and found on the shirt pubic hairs of Negroid origin which exhibited the same microscopic characteristics as the known pubic hairs of appellant. He also found one pubic hair of Caucasian origin, which exhibited the same microscopic characteristics of the known pubic hairs of the prosecutrix.

 This witness also testified that in the pubic combing sample of the prosecutrix, he found hairs of Negroid origin which exhibited the same microscopic characteristics as the known pubic hairs of appellant.

 The prosecutrix testified that the appellant took the battery from her automobile and placed it in the trunk of his car. An officer testified he found the prosecutrix' ...


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