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CANDLER G. PEOPLES v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

JANUARY 21, 1987

CANDLER G. PEOPLES
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE HAWKINS, P.J., DAN LEE AND GRIFFIN, JJ.

DAN LEE, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Candler" Candy "Peoples brings this appeal from her conviction in Rankin County Circuit Court of conspiracy to murder her husband, John Paul Peoples, who was killed sometime during the night of July 18, 1984. Her trial was held May 13 and 14, 1985, and she was sentenced on May 17, 1985 to twenty (20) years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of corrections. She assigns two (2) errors:

I.

 The evidence adduced was insufficient to sustain the charge of conspiracy to commit murder and therefore, the verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence.

 II.

 The verdict was the result of bias, passion and prejudice on the part of the jury.

 FACTS

 Candy Peoples and John Paul Peoples were married on October 31, 1980. Candy met Jim Cooper in February of 1984. Sometime around the end of March or the first of April of 1984, Candy and Jim Cooper began dating each other. At some point in time after this, the exact date of which Candy could not remember, Paul had told Candy to gather her things and leave the house because he did not feel that she was acting the way a" Peoples "was supposed to act.

 In late June and July, 1984, Candy lived with Cooper for two and one-half weeks in a trailer out behind the house of a friend.

 On Monday, July 16, 1984, Candy had returned home to Paul Peoples to try and make their marriage work. On Tuesday, July 17, both of them got up and went to work as usual and it was just a normal day. They again got up and went to work

 as usual on Wednesday, July 18, 1984. Candy talked to Paul several times throughout this day and at one point during the day requested that Paul take the maid home because she was going to try and get her hair done that afternoon. Candy's hairdresser testified Candy did not keep the appointment. Later that week Candy called and asked her to tell anyone who asked that she had kept the appointment. However, in reality, after work on this Wednesday, Candy went over to Mickey and Sharon Dements' house around 5:15 or 5:30. It was not unusual for her to meet several friends there. Several people were already at the Dements' house when she arrived. Sometime later, Jim Cooper arrived at the Dements' house. Billy Reis also showed up.

 Cooper and Billy Reis went out on the porch away from people to talk. Cooper then returned and asked Candy if she was going to stay with him that night, but she said no, she was going home to her husband. Again Cooper and Reis talked outside, and when Cooper returned this time, he asked if Candy would stay with him that night if everything was going to be" okay "by the weekend. Candy testified that she didn't know what he was talking about, but she said" okay. "Billy Reis left the Dements' and sometime after that, Candy and Jim Cooper went in Candy's car to Doug and Frank Addison's house in Richland, Mississippi. The Addisons owned the trailer where Cooper and Candy had lived together.

 After arriving at the Addison house, Jim Cooper made a telephone call and a short time afterwards, Billy Reis showed up there. Jim Cooper and Billy Reis had another private conversation at the Addison house. After this conversation, Jim requested that Candy call her husband. Candy testified that she asked Cooper why, but Cooper didn't answer. He finally told her to tell Paul that she had car trouble and Candy said that when she asked," Why, what are you doing? "Cooper replied don't worry, everything's okay.

 Candy made the call to her husband. In the statement she gave police following her arrest, Candy said she told her husband what Cooper had requested. She told Paul that she had had car trouble near the swinging bridge on Old Byram Road. At trial, Candy said she could not remember exactly what she told her husband because she had been drinking. She said at trial that she did not tell her husband to go down to the river, but in her statement to police, Candy said Paul replied that he thought he ought to go check on the car. She testified she had no intention of tricking her husband.

 After making this call, Candy fell asleep on a couch. Cooper returned later and awoke Candy. He told her it was

 4:00 a.m. and she testified that she was in no condition to drive home and slept until sunrise.

 The body of Paul Peoples was found Friday, July 20, 1984, washed up on the bank of the Pearl River, near the swinging bridge. The cause of death had been a gunshot wound behind and below the right ear. In due time Cooper, Reis and appellant were indicted on various charges in connection with this homocide.

 A couple of days prior to Wednesday, July 18, 1984, Jim Cooper had asked Candy about a pistol that she regularly carried in her purse. She got the pistol out and said that it needed cleaning and Jim Cooper took it from her, telling her that he would clean it. Candy just said okay. She never saw the pistol again and never asked him about its whereabouts, even after her husband was reported missing. Candy testified that the pistol introduced as the murder weapon certainly resembled the pistol that Jim Cooper had gotten from her.

 Candy's co-workers recounted the contents of letters they had seen in Candy's desk. Candy admitted she had kept letters from Cooper in her desk, and these bore the initials" J.C. "or" J.T.C. "The letters stated that the author wished he could get Paul out of the way so that" they "could live their own lives. The writer couldn't understand why Paul was trying to keep Candy just for himself. The writer said he couldn't stand the thought of Candy living with" him. "Another letter stated that the writer felt like Candy was a puppet and that her husband held the strings. Yet another stated that the writer ...


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