ZUCCARO, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:
Patricia Vickery was indicted, tried and convicted in the Circuit Court of Lowndes County for possession of more than one kilogram of marijuana. Vickery was sentenced to eighteen years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and fined $40,000.00. On appeal, Vickery assigns the following as error:
(1) THE DELAY OF THREE AND ONE-HALF YEARS FROM INDICTMENT AND ARRAIGNMENT TO TRIAL CONSTITUTED A DENIAL OF VICKERY'S RIGHT TO A SPEEDY TRIAL.
(2) THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING THE CONTENTS OF APARTMENT 119 AT THE RIVERGATE APARTMENT COMPLEX INTO EVIDENCE.
(3) THE STATE FAILED TO PROVE THAT PATRICIA VICKERY HAD DOMINION AND CONTROL OVER APARTMENT 119.
(4) THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ALLOWING THE STATE'S WITNESS, HARRY DOWDLE, TO MAKE PREJUDICIAL COMMENTS OVER THE OBJECTION OF THE DEFENSE COUNSEL.
We find all assignments have merit and therefore, we reverse, render and appellant is discharged.
The appellant, Patricia Vickery, was arrested on January 17, 1983. Vickery was indicted on February 18, 1983 of possession of more than one kilogram of marijuana. Vickery was arraigned and pled innocent on February 23, 1983. The trial did not take place until August 28, 1986, approximately one thousand two hundred eighty three (1,283) days later.
The facts leading to the arrest of Patricia Vickery are as follows:
Patricia was living in a home with a man named Gary Hall at Route 7, Box 1995, Perkins Road in Columbus, Mississippi. Gary Hall was arrested at the National Bank of Commerce in Columbus, Mississippi after a bank employee witnessed him acting suspiciously while placing items in a safety deposit vault. After the arrest of Gary Hall, the police obtained
search warrants to search Hall's home on Perkins Road and apartment number 119 at the Rivergate Apartment complex in Columbus. The police were aware of the connection between Gary Hall and apartment number 119 because they found a rent receipt for the apartment in Gary Hall's vehicle when they inventoried it following Hall's arrest.
The search of the Perkins Road home where Patricia Vickery lived yielded nothing to suggest criminal activity. However, the search of apartment number 119, rented to a Pat Williams, produced 142.12 pounds (64.5 kilograms) of marijuana. Following the seizure of the marijuana in that apartment, the officers returned to the Perkins Road address and arrested Patricia Vickery. A jury returned a guilty verdict against Patricia Vickery and on September 2, 1986 she was sentenced to serve 18 years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections and fined $40,000.00.
WAS PATRICIA VICKERY DENIED THE RIGHT TO A SPEEDY TRIAL?
Lowndes County has four circuit court terms: 1) beginning the second Monday in February for eighteen days 2) beginning the second Monday in May for eighteen days 3) beginning the third Monday in August for eighteen days and 4) beginning the second Monday in November for twenty four days.
The right to a speedy trial is secured to Vickery by the Sixth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and by Article 3, Section 26 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890. Mississippi Code Ann. 99-17-1 (Supp. 1981) requires that a defendant be brought to trial within 270 days of arraignment by providing that:
Unless good cause can be shown, and a continuance duly granted by the court, all offenses for which indictments are presented to the court shall be tried no later than two hundred and seventy days after the accused has been arraigned. (Emphasis added)
The record reflects that approximately one thousand two hundred and eighty three (1,283) days elapsed between the time of arraignment and the time of trial. The following chronology of events will be helpful to illustrate the unreasonable amount of delay existing before Vickery went to trial.
Opening of February Term 02/14/83 Indictment 02/18/83
Arraignment and entry of not guilty plea 02/21/83
Defendant's motion for a sample of the marijuana and for a continuance 02/22/83
Opening of May Term 05/09/83 Defendant's motion for continuance 05/26/83 Opening of August Term 08/15/83 Defendant's motion for continuance 08/19/83 Opening of November Term 11/14/83 Court continued case on its own motion
until following term stating only" for good cause shown " 12/09/83
Opening of February Term 02/13/84 Court continued case on its own motion
until following term stating" for good cause shown " 03/02/84
Opening of May Term 05/14/84 Court continued case on its own motion
until next term stating only" for good cause shown " 06/01/84
Opening of August Term 08/20/84 Defendant and State make joint motion
for continuance 08/27/84 Motion for alias capias, which was
granted, issuance for Pat Vickery for reason that defendant's bonding company, Delta Bonding, was defunct 08/29/84
Opening of November Term 11/12/84 State begins the process to have
Patricia Vickery extradited from Georgia to Mississippi 11/30/84
Court continues case on its own Motion stating only" for good cause shown " 12/06/84
Opening of February Term 02/11/85 Court continues case on its own motion
stating only" for good cause shown " 03/01/85 Opening of May Term 05/13/85 Court continues case on its own motion
stating only" for good cause shown " 05/31/85 Defendant's motion for continuance 06/04/85 Opening of August Term 08/19/85 Court continues case on its own motion
stating only" for good cause shown " 09/08/85 Opening of November Term 11/11/85 Court continues case on its own motion
stating only" for good cause shown " 12/06/85 State makes motion which court granted
requesting that court order Sheriff of Lowndes County to obtain custody of Vickery who was confined in
Georgia Department of Corrections. Trial set for February 1986 Term 01/30/86
District Attorney's Office advised that Patricia Vickery could be brought to Mississippi ...