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JAMES T. REED v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

DECEMBER 14, 1988

JAMES T. REED
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, PRATHER and GRIFFIN

ROY NOBLE LEE, CHIEF JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

James T. Reed was indicted, tried and convicted in the Circuit Court of Rankin County for armed robbery in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated 97-3-79 (1972). He was sentenced by the jury to life imprisonment, and has appealed to this Court assigning the following errors in the trial below:

I.

 APPELLANT HAD INEFFECTIVE COUNSEL.

 II.

 THE SENTENCE OF LIFE IMPRISONMENT VIOLATES THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE OF THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION.

 III.

 THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO GRANT A NEW TRIAL SINCE THE VERDICT WAS AGAINST THE OVERWHELMING WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE.

 Facts

 About 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, 1985, appellant James T. Reed and another male entered the Diamond Jewelers store in Pearl, Mississippi. Appellant's companion asked to see a chain from the showcase and inquired if he could put the chain on lay-away. Mitch Trebotich, store employee, was completing the lay-away form when appellant's companion drew a gun and forced Trebotich to lie on the floor. Appellant then walked around the counter and bound Trebotich. The two men took gold jewelry, $200.00 in cash from the store, and some checks and $1,250 in cash which was under the counter near Trebotich's head. *fn1 The two men were in the store approximately twenty (20) minutes and Trebotich had an opportunity to get a good look at them. He was able to describe their clothing and remembered their faces and physical characteristics. Later, he looked through a book with photographs of known criminals displayed to him by the police, but could not identify any of those individuals. About a week later, he was shown ten photographs of similar looking black males and he, at that time, quickly identified appellant.

 Trebotich described the gunman as a black male, approximately six feet tall, wearing a pearl earring in his left ear and fingernail polish on both hands. As a result of that description, an officer of the Jackson Police Department arrested Lewis Allison on June 12, 1985, and recovered from him items of jewelry taken from the store in the robbery. Other items of jewelry were recovered from Mary Ann Stiff, who said that she and appellant Reed had taken the jewelry to the house of a man who was supposed to help appellant sell the jewelry. Appellant had given Mary Ann Stiff some jewelry to keep for him and she had hidden it outside of her house. A Jackson police officer, accompanied by a man (CI) named "Sonny" , who had given the police officer information that appellant and Stiff came to his house with the jewelry, went to Stiff's house and the jewelry was recovered.

 At trial, photographs of jewelry were identified by Trebotich as the items which had been taken in the robbery. Appellant's defense was alibi, which was adduced by the brother of appellant and appellant's employer, Roy Benjamin. They both testified that appellant worked at Benjamin's place of business the entire day of June 8, 1985.

 I.

 APPELLANT HAD INEFFECTIVE ...


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