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HAROLD DAVID BARNES v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

JUNE 05, 1985

HAROLD DAVID BARNES
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



EN BANC

ROBERTSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

For the second time within a year Harold David Barnes appeals to this Court from a judgment of conviction entered by the Circuit Court of the Second Judicial District of Jones County, Mississippi, this time a conviction of the crime of murder. Once again, because the Circuit Court failed to

enforce discovery rules found in Rule 4.06 of our Uniform Criminal Rules of Circuit Court Practice, we reverse and remand. See Barnes v. State, 460 So.2d 126, 133-135 (Miss.1984).

 The context is set by that portion of Rule 4.06 which reads:

 Upon request of defendant, the prosecution shall furnish to the court in camera any prior written statements of witnesses. If these materials are found to be materially inconsistent with the witness' testimony, the statement shall be supplied to defense counsel prior to cross-examination.

 At trial, the principal state witness for the prosecution was Willard Donald Knight. On direct examination, Knight described several months of advance planning by Barnes directed toward the murder of Barnes' wife, Beverly. The basic motif was a faked automobile accident. Various options were considered and discarded. Finally, Knight testified that on Easter afternoon, April 7, 1980, Barnes came to his house and said "Be ready to go tonight" . Barnes came back at approximately 10:30 p.m. From this point forward Knight described in meticulous detail his going to Barnes' house, helping get Beverly's body into a car and then helping to stage the wreck. Without question, Knight's testimony was the star attraction in the case for the prosecution. His credibility was likely outcome-determinative in the jury's mind.

 On cross-examination, Knight was asked if he had previously talked with police officers. After some questions, the existence of three prior witness statements was disclosed. Defense counsel then invoked Rule 4.06 and moved for production of all prior statements given by the witness Knight to determine "whether or not there were any contradictory statements given" *fn1. Five statements were produced. These are:

 (1) a typewritten question-and-answer interview of Knight by law enforcement officers given December 28, 1982, being 17 pages in length,

 (2) another typewritten question-and-answer interview of Knight by law enforcement officers, this one given December 29, 1982, and being four pages in length,

 (3) a narrative statement given by Knight and signed by

 him on March 17, 1983, being two pages in length,

 (4) a typewritten question-and-answer interview of Knight by law enforcement officers given March 17, 1983, being 33 pages in length,

 (5) a final typewritten question-and-answer interview of Knight by law enforcement officers, this time of March 21, 1983, being 21 pages in length.

 The trial judge then examined the five statements in camera and thereafter denied Barnes' request, announcing "that there is nothing exculpatory in the statements" . Barnes' counsel asked that the record reflect that the purpose of his request was not merely to obtain exculpatory materials but also for the purpose of cross-examining the witness with respect to conflicts in the statements and between what the witness had said in the statements and his testimony in open court. The trial judge never ruled on whether there were conflicts in the statements or between the statements and the testimony of Knight given up to that point at trial.

 The statements were then placed in sealed envelopes and made a part of the record on appeal. We presume that the statements have to this day not been seen by counsel for Barnes. Upon our examination, we find the following discrepancies in the ...


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