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ROBERT LEE WHITE, JR. v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

OCTOBER 08, 1986

ROBERT LEE WHITE, JR.
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE WALKER, C.J., SULLIVAN & ANDERSON, JJ.

SULLIVAN, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Robert Lee White, Jr., was convicted of forcible rape in the Circuit Court of Forrest County, Mississippi, and sentenced to life in the custody of the Department of Corrections. He appeals, assigning as error:

I. The trial court erred in overruling his motion to suppress his statements; and

 II. The trial court erred in overruling his motion for a change of venue.

 Because the issues presented by these assignments of error deal with the facts surrounding the arrest and subsequent confession of Robert Lee White, Jr., as well as the amount of actual pretrial publicity surrounding his trial, it is unnecessary that this opinion recite the facts of the crime itself.

 Among the motions filed by White's attorney was a motion for a change of venue and a motion to suppress White's statement. The trial court heard the testimony concerning the motion for change of venue and denied the motion. Testimony was also heard on the motion to suppress the statement and that motion was denied as well.

 I.

 DID THE TRIAL COURT ERR IN OVERRULING WHITE'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS WHITE'S STATEMENTS?

 White argues that based upon the" totality of the circumstances "test his statement should have been excluded. White contends that he was subjected to violence or threats, direct or indirect promises, prolonged detention, long and intense interrogation, physical deprivations, and limited access to counsel. White also alleges that he was inadequately informed of his rights and was under the influence of alcohol and drugs. All of this was testified to by White at the suppression hearing.

 Through cross-examination and the direct testimony of all of the officers involved the prosecution rebutted the allegations of White.

 There is no question on this record that White received those warnings required by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, 86 S. Ct. 1602 (1966). White contends that the videotaped statement and the written statement were involuntarily given and that he did not intelligently, knowingly, and voluntarily waive his Miranda rights. White brought this to the attention of the trial court by proper motion as required by Hemmingway v. State, 483 So. 2d 1335 (Miss. 1986). Prosecution then shouldered the burden of proving to the trial court's satisfaction that not only had White been given his Miranda rights but that he had also intelligently, knowingly, and voluntarily waived those rights. The burden of proof bourne by the prosecution in this effort is beyond a reasonable doubt. Agee v. State, 185 So. 2d 671 (Miss. 1966). When the voluntariness of a confession is challenged by an accused he has a due process right to a reliable determination that the confession was in fact voluntarily given. Cabello v. State, 490 So. 2d 852, 856 (Miss. 1986). This voluntariness of confession or statement is determined in the light of" totality of the circumstances "surrounding the giving of that statement. Brown v. State, 483 So. 2d 329 (Miss. 1986); Gavin v. State, 473 So. 2d 952 (Miss. 1985); Jones v. State, 461 So. 2d 686 (Miss. 1984); and Neal v. State, 451 So. 2d 743 (Miss. 1984).

 The trial court found that the prosecution had met its burden of proof and admitted the statement into evidence. Great deference is given a trial judge once he determines that a confession is voluntary and therefore admissible," His finding becomes a finding of fact which will not be reversed on appeal unless it is manifestly in error or contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. "Cabello at 856; Frost v. State, 483 So.2d 1345 (Miss. 1986).

 The overwhelming weight of the evidence on this record is that the prosecution by clear and convincing evidence proved not only that White had received his Miranda warnings, but that he waived his rights intelligently, knowingly, and voluntarily. The admission of the statements into evidence by the trial judge was not manifest error nor was it contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence and there is no merit to this assignment.

 II.

 DID THE TRIAL COURT ERR IN OVERRULING WHITE'S MOTION FOR A CHANGE OF VENUE?

 In support of his motion for change of venue, White introduced the testimony of two witnesses, Janet Braswell for The Hattiesburg American and Alma White, the accused's ...


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