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SABRINA SUAN v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

AUGUST 05, 1987

SABRINA SUAN
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE DAN M. LEE, PRATHER AND ROBERTSON, JJ.

ROBERTSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

I.

Today's appeal from a conviction of the crime of escape presents two issues. On the first, we hold that one who furnishes and drives the getaway car has committed the statutorily defined crime of escape. Second, however, because the Circuit Court unreasonably restricted defense cross-examination of the chief prosecution witness regarding the matter of leniency extended in exchange for testimony, we reverse and remand.

 II.

 Prior to June of 1985 Louis Mitchell Haynes was serving a sentence of three years imprisonment upon conviction of the crime of grand larceny. Haynes was being held at the Simpson County Community Work Center (CWC) in Magee, having been transferred there by the Mississippi Department of Corrections, following a tour of duty at Parchman. On June 4, 1985, between the hours of 8:00 and 10:00 a.m., Haynes escaped.

 Haynes had told Eddie Grammer, a fellow prisoner, that he was planning to escape and go to Pensacola, Florida. On the morning of June 4 Grammer saw a red Chevrolet pickup truck arrive and then saw Haynes enter the truck and leave. Important for today's case, Grammer got a good look at the truck's driver, whom he has identified as Sabrina Suan.

 Grammer knew Suan, for he had seen her on visiting days when she came to see Haynes.

 Sabrina Suan was the Defendant below and is the Appellant here.

 Haynes and Suan made their way to Pensacola and were arrested three or four days later. In the presence of Simpson County Sheriff Lloyd Jones, Suan remarked to Haynes," I didn't expect to get in any trouble when I picked you up. "

 Prior to the escape incident, Suan lived and worked as a barmaid in Pensacola. She testified that on June 4, 1985, she went to the beach arriving home around 3:30 p.m. She had been home only a few minutes when Haynes arrived, told her he had been paroled and hitchhiked to Pensacola. Suan had not seen him for three weeks, when she had last visited him at the Simpson County CWC in Magee. She does not own a red pickup truck. Suan had previously lived with Haynes prior to his conviction, wrote him letters while he was confined, and he called her twice a week while he was at CWC.

 On August 5, 1985, the Simpson County Grand Jury returned an indictment charging Suan with the crime of aiding the escape of a felon. Miss. Code Ann. 97-9-29 (1972). On March 27, 1986, the case was called for trial in Circuit Court sitting in Mendenhall, Mississippi. On the following day the jury returned a verdict finding the Defendant" guilty of aiding and assisting a jail escape. "The Circuit Court thereupon sentenced Suan to serve a term of five years imprisonment. In due course thereafter, Suan filed a motion for judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the verdict, or, in the alternative, for a new trial. On April 2, 1986, that motion was overruled and denied. Suan thereupon perfected her appeal to this Court.

 III.

 Sabrina Suan's first assignment of error is that the evidence offered by the prosecution was legally insufficient to undergird a valid verdict of the guilty. Suan in substance is charging that the Circuit Court erroneously denied her motion for judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the verdict which, of course, served as a renewal of her request for a peremptory instruction of acquittal made at the conclusion of all of the evidence.

 Suan has been charged, tried and convicted under one of our several escape statutes, Miss. Code Ann. 97-9-29 (1972), which, in relevant part, provides:

 Every person who shall, by any means whatever, aid or assist any prisoner lawfully detained in the penitentiary, or in any jail or place of confinement for any felony, in an attempt to escape therefrom, whether such escape be effective or not, . . ., shall, upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary not exceeding ten years.

 Suan says she did nothing which violated Section 97-9-29. Taking the evidence, as she must, in the light most consistent with the verdict, Suan argues that at most the prosecution proved that she drove the get-away car. Her point is that by this time Haynes had already escaped. She did not aid him or assist him in his escape because he had completed his escape by the time she rendered her aid or assistance, or so Suan seeks to persuade us.

 We construe a statute. Did Sabrina Suan" aid or assist "Louis Mitchell Haynes" . . . in an attempt to escape? "We are, it is true, without evidence that Suan assisted Haynes in scaling the prison walls, nor have we evidence that she smuggled into Haynes' place of confinement any weapon or instrumentality of escape. But it defies common sense to suggest that her providing him with a vehicle in which to ...


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