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CHARLES HUNTER v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

MAY 28, 1986

CHARLES HUNTER
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



EN BANC.

ROY NOBLE LEE, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Charles Hunter was indicted, tried and convicted in the Circuit Court of Coahoma County, on a charge of murder less than capital and was sentenced to life imprisonment in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. He has appealed from the judgment of the court and assigns five (5) errors in the trial below.

On December 8, 1983, appellant spent the night at the home of his aunt, Johnnie Mae Weddington, in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The next morning he and Johnnie Mae Weddington became involved in an altercation and he stabbed her more than twenty-five (25) times with a butcher knife, which resulted in her death. Aaron Weddington, the victim's husband, awoke, heard the noise and went to the scene where he saw what was happening. Aaron Weddington ran from the house and across the street telling his neighbor, Frank Ratliff, to call the law. Subsequently, they returned to the scene of the stabbing where

 Weddington saw appellant with a knife in his hand. Ratliff testified that when he went into the Weddington house, he saw appellant stabbing the victim and heard appellant say to her," I told you I'd kill you, "after trying to pull down her pajama bottoms.

 Officer N. V. Vaughn arrived and saw appellant standing over the body, and he called to appellant, asking appellant what he was doing. Appellant went down the corridor to the back of the house, and Officer Bill Gardner arrived. The two officers started to the area where appellant had gone, and Officer Gardner asked appellant what he had done. Thereupon, appellant started fighting, struck Officer Gardner and was finally subdued and handcuffed.

 On January 25, 1984, after being indicted, appellant filed notice of the insanity defense. He was examined by Whitfield Drs. Helen Robertson and Margie Lancaster, who diagnosed appellant as being a paranoid schizophrenic. They were of the opinion that appellant was competent to stand trial, but were also of the opinion that he was unable to distinguish between right and wrong at the time of the homicide.

 The State filed a motion for court-appointed psychiatrist on February 8, 1984, which motion was granted. Dr. Donald Guild, psychiatrist, and Dr. Charlton Stanley, forensic psychologist, reported that they agreed appellant was a paranoid schizophrenic, but that he was competent to stand trial and was M'Naghten sane. Dr. Stanley so testified at the trial.

 The State presented lay witnesses who testified that appellant appeared sane on December 8 and 9, one of which witnesses was Carole Weddington, a cousin of appellant, who had a master's degree in counseling in behavioral science. She further testified that she had known him for twenty-five (25) years and that appellant knew right from wrong at the time of the homicide.

 Three medical experts testified for the appellant that under the M'Naghten rule, appellant did not know the nature and quality of his acts and did not know right from wrong at the time of the crime. Further, that he believed the victim was the devil's wife and he killed her out of apprehension of harm to both him and his niece. As stated, the prosecution presented Dr. Charlton Stanley, who was of the opinion that appellant knew the difference between right and wrong at the time of the homicide, and that he was M'Naghten sane. The appellant did not testify.

 I.

 DID THE LOWER COURT ERR IN ADMITTING TESTIMONY OF DR. STANLEY WHICH WAS HEARSAY EVIDENCE?

 Appellant contends that certain parts of Dr. Charlton Stanley's testimony constituted inadmissible hearsay and that the State was permitted to introduce the testimony of Dr. Guild without his presence. Those parts of Dr. Stanley's testimony, which appellant found objectionable, follow:

 Q. Well, did you and Doctor Guild concur with those two individuals in the competency to stand trial?

 BY MR. WEBSTER: I would object as to this witness testifying as to what Doctor Guild did or did not concur to. Doctor Guild can come in and he can testify as to how he concurred. I think this witness can testify as to what his thoughts were.

 BY THE COURT: The objection is sustained; confine it to your own opinion, please, sir.

 Q. (By Mr. Mellen) Did you have an opinion?

 A. Did I have an opinion?

 Q. As to the defendant's competency to stand trial?

 A. Oh, at the time I saw him, I thought he was competent to stand trial. We - Doctor Guild and I did dictate a letter which we sent to the court to that effect.

 Q. And, did you diagnose any problems or mental illness which the defendant might have?

 A. Oh, we concurred with the diagnosis of schizophrenia, paranoid type.

 BY MR. WEBSTER: Judge, I would object again. He is continuing to testify that we did this, we did that, in reference to what Doctor Guild may or may not have done. I ...


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