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EDWARD LEE DARGHTY v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

JULY 20, 1988

EDWARD LEE DARGHTY
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE HAWKINS, P.J., PRATHER AND SULLIVAN, JJ.

HAWKINS, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Edward Lee Darghty appeals from his three convictions in the circuit court of Tate County of having felonious carnal knowledge of his step-daughter, and sentence to four years imprisonment for each charge with the sentences to run consecutively. Because of the improper exclusion of the testimony of a defense witness when Darghty had violated Rule 4.06 of the Uniform Criminal Rules of Circuit Court Practice, we reverse.

FACTS

 Darghty was born January 4, 1940. On June 10, 1984, he and Mary Alice Compton Darghty were married. Prior to their marriage they had lived together. Mary Alice had two children by a previous marriage, Michael, age 13, and Kathy Lynn Compton, who was born September 15, 1970.

 The grand jury of Tate County on October 30, 1985, indicted Darghty for having had on June 3, 1985, felonious carnal knowledge of Kathy, his step-daughter, in violation of Miss. Code Ann. 97-5-41.

 On February 3, 1986, Darghty filed a motion for discovery under Rule 4.06 of our Uniform Criminal Rules of Circuit Court Practice. The motion asked for extensive discovery, including the names of State witnesses. The State duly responded with written discovery on February 7, and made supplemental discovery thereafter.

 On June 5, 1985, Darghty signed a written confession admitting having had sexual relations with Kathy on June 3, 1985, as well as other occasions for a period of a year. This written confession was given to, and signed in the presence of J. F. (Jay) Clark, a Mississippi Highway Patrolman with many years of criminal investigative experience, and Eddie Hadskey, a deputy sheriff.

 On March 21, 1986, the court entered an agreed order consolidating four charges against the defendant for trial.

 On March 28, 1986, Darghty filed a motion to suppress the confession, which was heard by the court on May 7, the first day of Darghty's trial. In the hearing on the motion to suppress, Darghty made no charge against the officers having violated any of his rights in securing the confession, and insofar as the officers' conduct was concerned, even Darghty made no contention that the confession was not free and voluntary. He did contend, however, that the confession was given as a result of promises made by his wife that if he would sign the motor vehicle title to a pickup truck owned by him, but upon which she had co-signed a promissory note secured by the title to the truck, that she would get the charges reduced so that he would not have to go to jail.

 He testified as follows:

 A. Well, before they came, my wife, Mary Compton Darghty, had came to me with the title for my pick-up truck and told me that if I would sign the truck over you know, sign the title so she could have the truck put in her name, and sign a statement saying, you know, that I was guilty, you know, of doing this, that arrangements were to be made through the Justice Court, you know, where I went for my hearing, that I would just be - it was my belief that the charge was going to be reduced and I was going to receive a six months sentence, a $500.00 fine and be suspended and asked to leave the state.

 Q. Now, are you telling this Court that you would admit something that you didn't do in return for that? Tell us your motives behind what you did?

 A. Well, at that time, I was very upset and nervous and as you know I have a bad heart

 condition and I just did not want to be in there where I was on account of my condition and I had talked to people in there, you know, they'll ask you what you're there for and so on, the other inmates that were there at the time, and when she came to me with this, you know, I just decided that lewd, licentiousness or whatever they were going to offer me was, you know a lot better than staying in there for the length of time that I have already stayed in there.

 Q. So, did you sign the title over?

 A. Yes, sir.

 Darghty said the conversation between him and his wife took place at the jail, with Darghty being in a room with several cellmates, and his wife just beyond the door to the cell. They talked through an opening in the door. Darghty said that several other inmates were sitting at the table while he was talking to his wife through the door opening. He recalled Willie Lee Loveberry, Bobby Joe Carter, and Jesse Jones specifically. He said they could easily hear what was being said.

 Following the hearing the circuit judge ruled the confession to be competent, because anything the wife said could not be attributed to the State. The judge noted that Mary Alice was not an agent or representative of the State, nor was there any proof that she received any encouragement from the State in any respect. The court then concluded as follows:

 [T]here's just no basis for a suppression here. It's going to be a question for the Jury as to the truthfulness of the statement; that's purely a factual situation. The Jury can accept it or reject it. My duty is to determine whether or not the statement was given through product of force, threat, intimidation, promises of reward or leniency, trickery or deceit by law enforcement officers acting in the color of the law, and it's just not here, but to the contrary in every respect. The Jury has a right to consider the circumstances, the environment and whatever else may exist at the time of the giving of the statement and ultimately they can accept it as being true or not true, but nothing in the testimony reveals any action by the State that

 would violate any Constitutional rights of this Defendant. . . .

 After the court overruled the motion to suppress the confession, the trial proceeded by selection of the jury. Kathy was the first witness and testified about Darghty's having had sexual relations with her. Mary Alice then testified. She was an employee at the local Quick Stop. She admitted having gone to the jail following Darghty's arrest and asking him to sign the title to the pickup truck over to her. She denied, however, agreeing to drop charges or making him any promise if he would do so.

 Gloria Connelly, a special education teacher, and Rita Amburn, a teaching counselor, testified about attempting to assist Kathy, who dropped out of school subsequent to the charges being made against Darghty.

 The State then introduced the confession through testimony of Hadskey and Clark.

 When the State rested, the defense made a motion for a directed verdict, which was overruled.

 Defense counsel then announced in chambers that the defendant wanted to call as his first ...


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