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DANIEL COULTER v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

APRIL 22, 1987

DANIEL COULTER
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, DAN LEE and SULLIVAN

ROY NOBLE LEE, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Daniel Coulter was convicted in the Circuit Court of Rankin County on a charge of forcible rape and was sentenced to a term of fifteen (15) years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections after the jury was unable to agree upon a life sentence. Coulter has appealed to this Court and assigns four (4) errors in the trial below.

I. - III.

 THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO SUSTAIN THE APPELLANT'S MOTION FOR A DIRECTED VERDICT OF ACQUITTAL AND IN FAILING TO GRANT THE APPELLANT'S REQUEST FOR PEREMPTORY INSTRUCTION OF NOT GUILTY.

 THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN OVERRULING APPELLANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT NOTWITHSTANDING THE VERDICT, OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL.

 THE VERDICT OF THE JURY IN THIS CASE WAS AGAINST THE OVERWHELMING WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE.

 Evidence favorable to the State reflects that on June 12, 1983, appellant went to the home of a 54-year-old female in Richland, Rankin County, Mississippi, where he broke in through a back bathroom window. Appellant entered the victim's room between 2 and 3 a.m., where she was asleep, but awakened upon his entry. According to the victim, the burglar demanded money from her, then jumped into the bed, laid a knife across her head and said," Lady, do you want to die? "She testified that she was afraid for her life, and that of her mother, who lived in the house with her, and submitted to the rape; that the attacker dug his fingers into her buttocks, causing bleeding on the sheets; that the attacker did penetrate her, but" he did not get any satisfaction. "The rapist tied her hands and left. The victim heard the backdoor make a noise as it opened. She finally was able to untie her hands and noticed that the bathroom window had been pried open and was propped up with a tomato stick from her garden. She called to her neighbor, who notified the Richland police, and Officer Bradshaw investigated. He detected what appeared to be blood on the sheets and on some underwear in the victim's bedroom, and he saw fresh pry marks on the window and that it had been propped open with a stick.

 About 2:30 a.m. on August 30, 1983, appellant was stopped for speeding on McDowell Road in Jackson, Mississippi, by Sgt. Sam Landrum, a Jackson policeman. Appellant fit the description of the suspect in a burglary and attempted rape that had occurred in Jackson about an hour and a half earlier. He was arrested for burglary and attempted rape, was given his Miranda warnings, and was taken to jail by Jackson Police Officer Dewayne Bradford.

 About 9:30 a.m. on the same morning, appellant was interrogated by Jackson police officers J. M. Monroe and T. E. Wilson concerning the burglary and attempted rape. Appellant was given his Miranda rights prior to that interview. The officers asked appellant if there were any related incidents in and around the Jackson area, involving him. Appellant told them that he had raped a woman in Richland three or four months earlier. The Jackson officers contacted the Richland officers and were referred to the Rankin County Sheriff's Office. Deputy Ken Dickerson went to Jackson, and, after

 giving appellant the Miranda warnings before beginning the interview, interrogated appellant about the rape in Richland. According to Dickerson, he wrote down what appellant said, appellant read the statement, correcting an error as to the color of the car, and signed it. The statement was entered into evidence.

 The appellant contends that the lower court erred (1) in failing to sustain his motion for a directed verdict of acquittal and in failing to grant his request for a peremptory instruction of not guilty; (2) in overruling his motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or, in the alternative, a motion for new trial, and (3) that the verdict of the jury was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. The assignments will be discussed as one.

 The standard of review for denial of a request for peremptory instruction is the same as for denial of a motion for directed verdict. The trial court must consider all the evidence in the light most favorable to the State. If the facts and reasonable inferences will support a verdict of guilty, then the directed verdict and peremptory instruction must be denied. Weeks v. State, 493 So. 2d 1280, 1282 (Miss. 1986); Winston v. State, 479 So. 2d 1093, 1095 (Miss. 1985); May v. State, 460 So. 2d 778, 780 (Miss. 1984).

 This Court will not order a new trial or acquittal on a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict unless it is convinced that the verdict is so contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence that, to allow it to stand, would result in injustice. May v. State, supra; Mullins v. State, 493 So. 2d 971, 976-977 (Miss. 1986).

 Appellant asserts that the State has not established the corpus delicti aliunde the confession, since the victim was unable to identify her attacker. The rule on ...


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