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WINFORD DEAN HILL v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

SEPTEMBER 02, 1987

WINFORD DEAN HILL
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



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

ANDERSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Winford Dean Hill was convicted in the Circuit Court of Union County of attempted grand larceny and sentenced to five years' imprisonment. Although we find the evidence more than sufficient to sustain a verdict, we reverse because of the trial court's improper limitation of the defendant's right to testify and to cross-examine and impeach certain witnesses.

On December 15, 1984, at about 6 o'clock p.m., two men attempted to steal a 1984 Chevrolet pick-up truck from the parking lot of the Big Star Grocery Market in New Albany, MS. One of the men, positively identified as Tony Wood, forced open the locked door of the truck and was inside attempting to start the ignition when the owner of the vehicle, Lamar Turner, approached. Turner chased Wood to a waiting 1979 White Thunderbird automobile. Turner could not positively identify the driver of the car, but did give a general description which matched the appellant.

 As the two men sped away, Turner was able to record the tag number which was traced to a 1979 White Thunderbird owned by the appellant. The appellant was arrested a day or so after the incident and Wood was arrested four to eight weeks later.

 At trial, Tony Wood, who had charges pending against him in Union County as well as several other counties, testified on behalf of the state implicating himself and Hill.

 Barbara McCauley (Wood's girlfriend) and Regina Pennington (a friend of McCauley's) both testified that they saw Wood and Hill about 7:00 p.m. on the evening in question and they heard Hill make certain incriminating statements. Both went forward to the police at Wood's request.

 Hill, who had recently been released from prison

 on similar charges, denied any participation in the attempted theft. He testified that he loaned his car to Wood and had no knowledge of the incident whatsoever.

 Appellant alleges several instances wherein he was prevented from effectively cross-examining certain witnesses regarding their possible bias and interest in the appellant's prosecution. First, appellant sought to cross examine co-indictee Tony Wood concerning his interest and bias in the case by showing threats by Wood against appellant's other witnesses.

 During cross examination the following exchange took place:

 Q. You made any threats against anybody?

 A. No, sir, I have not.

 Q. Have you made any threats about any witnesses of Dean Hill to be here today to testify?

 A. No, sir. I wish they were here.

 Q. All right. Have you threatened a lady by the name of Judith Wilson?

 A. No, sir.

 Q. Did you threaten a lady by the name of Sheena Wilson?

 A. No, sir.

 Q. That if Judith came to testify you'd burn her house?

 MR. GREGORY: Object, Your Honor.

 THE COURT: Sustained.

 MR. GREGORY: Ask the Jury be ...


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