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T. A. HARTFIELD v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

SEPTEMBER 21, 1988

T. A. HARTFIELD
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE DAN LEE, ROBERTSON AND GRIFFIN.

DAN LEE, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

The appellant, T. A. Hartfield, along with Ronnie Donald and David Rigsby, was indicted by the Grand Jury of Forrest County, Mississippi, for the crime of uttering. He was also charged under 99-19-83 of the Mississippi Code of 1972, as amended, as an habitual offender.

Following a two-day trial, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on the uttering charge. At a separate hearing, the court found Hartfield to be an habitual offender under 99-19-83, Miss. Code Ann. (1972), and sentenced him to life without parole. Feeling aggrieved by the holding of the lower court, Mr. Hartfield appeals and assigns two errors. Ultimately finding no error, we affirm.

 FACTS

 On March 18, 1986, T. A. Hartfield, the appellant, asked Ronald Donald to accompany him to his farm outside of New

 Augusta, Mississippi. The purpose of this trip was supposedly to do work at Hartfield's farm. Pursuant to this conversation, T. A. Hartfield (hereinafter "Hartfield"), and Ronald Donald (hereinafter "Donald") met in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. After meeting on the corner of Dabbs Street in Hattiesburg, the two men proceeded to Richton, Mississippi. In Richton, Hartfield told Donald he had a check to cash. Donald testified, "[appellant] told me he had a check and we'd get the check cashed . . . and he would pay me . . . so . . . he asked me would I go in and cash the check and I told him yes, I would." Hartfield made this check payable to "Joe A. Rutherford, Jr." and signed it "Bobby Wayne." Donald signed it on the back "J. A. Rutherford." The check was for $230.00. The pair then set out to cash the check.

 Hartfield gave Donald a social security card bearing the name "Joe A. Rutherford, Jr." Along with the social security card, Hartfield gave Donald a billfold in which to place the check. With the billfold in Donald's hands, the two proceeded to the "IGH Store in Richton." The plan to cash the check in Richton was diverted when Hartfield observed the manager's car in the parking lot. Frustrated due to this setback, Hartfield drove Donald to the home of Hartfield's cousin in Perry County.

 Resuming their efforts to cash the check, Hartfield and Donald came back to Richton. In Richton, the two men stopped at a gas station. While Donald was inside paying for the gas, Hartfield talked with a man named David Rigsby. Hartfield asked Rigsby to accompany them on their trip back to Hattiesburg. After Rigsby agreed to accompany the two men, Donald drove the group back to Petal, Mississippi. Arriving in Petal, the three men stopped at a Junior Food Mart. At this point Hartfield asked Rigsby to go in and cash the check. Agreeing to this request, Rigsby went into the store. In minutes Rigsby returned and told Hartfield that "they wouldn't cash a check there, but she [the clerk] said they might cash it around at the Jitney Jungle."

 At this point, Donald informed the two men that he "was not going to drive" and "not going to stop at the Jitney Jungle." Undaunted, Hartfield requested that Rigsby drive the automobile. Rigsby drove the car to the Jitney Jungle parking lot where Hartfield handed Rigsby the forged check and the social security card. He "told Rigsby to go in and get some beer." Rigsby proceeded into the Jitney Jungle store. At this point, Donald got out of the car and proceeded to call a cab.

 After entering the store, Rigsby put two six-packs of beer on the check-out counter. With the $230 check in hand, Rigsby testified, "I reached and gave her the check and asked her could she cash the check. She looked at it and then she went up to the top of the thingamarig checked the checking stuff I reckon and

 then she came back and asked me for some i.d." Unbeknownst to Rigsby, the cashier noticed that the check was on a list which the store had been alerted to watch for. Having discovered this information, the cashier alerted the co-manager.

 In this period of time, T. A. Hartfield entered the store and offered to co-sign or offer an additional endorsement on the check. Suspicious of Hartfield's intentions, Craig Price, co-manager, alerted police. A few minutes later police entered the store and arrested Hartfield and Rigsby. Additionally, Donald was apprehended in the parking lot.

 DISCUSSION

 The Court Committed Reversible Error in Introducing Evidence of Other Criminal Activity Against the ...


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