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LOUIS LEE BLACK v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

APRIL 15, 1987

LOUIS LEE BLACK
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE WALKER, C.J.; ROBERTSON AND GRIFFIN, JJ.

ROBERTSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

I.

This appeal from an aggravated assault conviction questions the trial judge's limitations upon cross-examination of the victim, to-wit: whether the victim's prior sharp business practices may be used either as a substantive defense to the charge or to impeach the victim's claim that he had dealt fairly with the accused. Two other less than troublesome assignments of error are tendered, our consideration of all of which leaves us with the firm and definite opinion that the judgment below should be affirmed.

 II.

 A.

 On September 13, 1985, Louis Lee Black, Defendant below and Appellant here, went to the business office of Fred Howard, Jr. in Greenville, Mississippi. Black lived in a home which he rented from Howard and the purpose of Howard's visit was to discuss past due rental payments owed by Black. In fact, Black had lived in the home for some ten years. It appears that at some time earlier Black had owned the home and that Howard had foreclosed a mortgage he held but allowed Black to continue to live there on a rental basis.

 In any event, the conversation between Black and Howard led to an argument in the course of which Black threw an unidentified liquid - apparently some sort of cleaning fluid - into Howard's face and then attacked Howard with a knife cutting him several times around the face and neck.

 That the assault occurred - that Black threw the liquid into Howard's face and cut him with the knife - is undisputed. How it occurred, however, was hotly contested. Howard testified that Black brought a cup or bowl with him when he entered the office. Black said that he had nothing with him when he entered Howard's office, that Howard pulled the knife, and that Black grabbed a container of liquid from

 Howard's desk and threw it in Howard's face" to slow him down. "

 During the course of the struggle, Howard's 83-year-old father, Fred Howard, Sr., entered the office. At the behest of his son, Howard, Sr. went to a desk to open the drawer apparently in search of a gun when" Black rushed up to me and cut me on the jaw. I threw up my arm and he cut me there and on my throat. "

 Medical testimony from an opthalmologist who examined Fred Howard, Jr. after the incident reflected that the victim had experienced a strong alkali burn to his eyes. The opthalmologist stated that Howard was at the time" legally blind "and that his prognosis for recovery of useful vision was listed as" guarded. "

 B.

 On October 17, 1985, Louis Lee Black was charged with aggravated assault in an indictment returned by the Washington County Grand Jury. Thereafter, on November 12, 1985, the matter was called for trial in the Circuit Court of Washington County at the conclusion of which the jury found Black guilty as charged. The Circuit Court thereupon imposed a sentence of twenty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Miss. Code Ann. 97-3-7(2) (Supp. 1986).

 Black thereafter filed a motion for judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the verdict of the jury, or, in the alternative, for a new trial. This motion was overruled on ...


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