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RICKEY CHISOLM v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

JULY 20, 1988

RICKEY CHISOLM
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE PRATHER, ROBERTSON AND ZUCCARO, JJ.

ROBERTSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

I.

This case of armed robbery in rural east central Mississippi presents questions regarding the fairness of the jury selection process and the admissibility of the defendant's confession. In addition to its federal constitutional dimension, each of these questions as well contains a significant factual component. Upon careful review, we conclude that we have no authority but to affirm.

 II.

 Rickey Chisolm is a thirty-one-year-old black male longtime resident of Scott County possessed of a fifth grade education and saddled with functional illiteracy. Chisolm was the Defendant below and is the Appellant here. Verner Lee Gatewood, the victim, is a seventy-year-old white male who operates a country store in the Lillian Community of Scott County where he also lives.

 On October 8, 1984, Gatewood was robbed at gunpoint by two masked individuals in the driveway of his home. At the time of the robbery Gatewood was carrying a cigar box with some $2,000.00 in cash and a number of checks and charge card receipts. Upon seeing the two masked individuals, Gatewood reached for the pistol he was carrying but had trouble removing it from the holster. *fn1 The gunman nearest to Gatewood immediately shot Gatewood striking him in the hand

 and chest. Nonetheless, Gatewood struggled with the gunman, managing to remove his mask, until the other masked individual struck him with a shock absorber and rendered him unconscious. Upon regaining consciousness, Gatewood discovered that the cigar box and its contents were gone.

 Later that evening, Deputy Sheriff Colon Anding, Scott County Sheriff's Department, investigated the scene and the incident. Anding discovered and followed a trail of footprints, two separate sets, and articles of clothing, a bloody glove and another mask, through a field behind Gatewood's home. *fn2 The footprints led to a house occupied by the McClendon family. Billy Ray McClendon advised Deputy Anding that Rickey Chisolm and Larry Carbins were there earlier in the evening looking for a ride to Morton.

 Rickey Chisolm was formally charged with armed robbery in an indictment returned by the Scott County Grand Jury on February 28, 1986. The case was moved to Hinds County via Chisolm's motion for change of venue. The case was called for trial on August 27, 1986, at the conclusion of which Chisolm was found guilty of armed robbery. The Circuit Court sentenced Chisolm to a term of thirty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Unhappy with this outcome, Chisolm now appeals to this Court.

 III.

 Chisolm first presents a Batson *fn3 claim. He argues that the prosecution excluded black persons from jury service for constitutionally impermissible reasons. He specifically argues that he made a prima facie showing under Batson and that the prosecution failed to articulate clear and racially neutral reasons for its use of peremptory challenges against potential black jurors.

 The record reflects that Chisolm is a black person and that the jury seated for his trial - including one alternate juror - was composed of ten white persons and three black persons. The record further reflects that the prosecution exercised twelve peremptory challenges, seven of which were used to exclude black persons from the jury.

 In Batson, the Supreme Court of the United States held that in order to make a prima facie showing of purposeful discrimination in the selection of a petit jury, a defendant must establish the following:

 (1) that he is a member of a cognizable racial group;

 (2) that the prosecutor has exercised peremptory challenges to remove from the venire members of the defendant's race;

 (3) that these facts and any other relevant circumstances raise an inference that the prosecutor used that practice to exclude the veniremen from ...


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