Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

ROOSEVELT WHITE v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

MARCH 29, 1989

ROOSEVELT WHITE
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



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

HAWKINS, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Roosevelt White appeals to this Court following his conviction in the 1st Judicial District of Hinds County of the murder of Ida Lee Schwartz and sentence to life imprisonment. He argues the verdict of the jury was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence on the issue of insanity at the time of the offense, and that he was denied a fair trial due to the admission of inflammatory and prejudicial evidence. Finding no error warranting reversal, we affirm.

FACTS

 In 1985 White worked for Schwartz Realty Company in Jackson, Mississippi, which was owned and operated by Seymour and Ida Lee Schwartz. White worked as a superintendent overseeing the maintenance of approximately 200 dwellings which the Schwartzes leased. In connection with his job, White wore a pager which enabled him to be contacted at any

 time by the Schwartzes. On the morning of December 3, 1985, White entered the realty offices and asked to speak to Ida Lee Schwartz. Upon being told Schwartz was not then in but was soon expected, White asked to be notified when she arrived. When White was notified on his pager by Schwartz of her arrival, he returned to the realty office, asked Schwartz to step into a back office with him, shot her three times in the face and neck with an RG. 22 caliber pistol and walked to a nearby police station where he turned himself in.

 On December 18, 1985, White was admitted to the state mental hospital for evaluation to determine whether he was competent to stand trial and/or M'Naghten insane. He remained at the hospital until January 24, 1986. Two experts, Dr. Margie Lancaster, a neurologist and director of the forensic unit at the state hospital, and Dr. Helen Robertson, a clinical psychologist, examined White and performed several psychological tests to determine his competency and sanity. Dr. Robertson and Dr. Lancaster each testified at trial that although tests revealed White was suffering from a personality disorder and severe depression, there was no evidence he was M'Naghten insane at the time of the offense. Additionally, Dr. Lancaster testified that on December 18, 1985, White told her of being uptight and worried about personal problems the night before the shooting and he was able to relax once he realized the solution would be to kill Schwartz, and further that this thought re-occurred to him when he was paged by Schwartz on the morning of December 3, 1985.

 For the defense Dr. Charlton S. Stanley, a forensic psychologist, and Dr. Donald Guild, a psychiatrist, who both examined White approximately ten months after the offense in September and October of 1986, and who performed a battery of tests to determine if White was insane, testified it was their opinion that on December 3, 1985, White was M'Naghten insane.

 These tests performed by Dr. Stanley and Dr. Guild on White, in large part the same ones performed by Dr. Lancaster and Dr. Robertson, included the Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale, which showed White's I.Q. to be 84; the Rorschach Ink Blot Test, which showed White lacked the ability to think in the abstract; and the Bender Visual Motor Test and Luria Nebraska Neuropsychological Test, which each indicated organic brain damage. Further, it was Dr. Stanley's opinion that White in fact suffered from organic brain damage which was caused either by Alzheimer's disease or strokelets, a series of minor strokes which affected the brain, with strokelets being the more likely explanation. However, in rebuttal Dr. Lancaster stated it was her opinion White did not suffer from

 an organic brain damage caused by either Alzheimer's disease or strokelets, medical conditions which fell within her specialty of neurology.

 At trial White's defense was that he was M'Naghten insane at the time of the shooting and, consequently, was not guilty of murder under the laws of Mississippi. The jury, however, found White guilty of murder, and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

 LAW

 I. WAS THE VERDICT OF THE JURY AGAINST THE OVERWHELMING WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE ON THE ISSUE OF WHITE'S SANITY AT THE TIME OF THE CRIME AND EVIDENCE BIAS, PASSION AND PREJUDICE?

 In Mississippi to establish the defense of insanity, it must be clearly proved that at the time of committing the act the party accused was laboring under such defect of reason from disease of mind as to not know the nature and quality of the act he was doing or, if he did know it, that he did not know it was wrong. See, United States v. McCracken, 488 F.2d 406 (5th Cir. 1974); Edwards v. State, 441 So. 2d 84 (Miss. 1983); Palmer v. State, 427 So. 2d 111 (Miss. 1983). Stated more succinctly, the test for insanity is whether the defendant was unable to distinguish right from wrong at the time the act was committed. See, Porter v. State, 492 So. 2d 970 (Miss. 1986); Frost v. State, 453 So. 2d 695 (Miss. 1984); Moore v. State, 237 So. 2d 844 (Miss. 1970); Harvey v. State, 207 So. 2d 108 (Miss. 1968). There is a presumption that an accused is sane and, therefore, the burden is initially on the accused to introduce evidence creating a reasonable doubt as to his sanity at the time of the act. However, once the accused has overcome this initial burden, it is the burden of the State to present sufficient evidence to prove the accused's sanity beyond a reasonable doubt. See, Edwards, supra; Billiot v. State, 454 So. 2d 445 (Miss. 1985), cert. denied 469 U.S. 1230 (1984), reh. den. 470 U.S. 1089 (1985); Myrick v. State, 290 So. 2d 259 (Miss. 1974); Herron v. State, 287 So. 2d 759 (Miss. 1974), cert. denied 417 U.S. 972 (1974); McGarrh v. State, 249 Miss. 247, 148 So. 2d 494 (1963), cert. denied. 375 U.S. 816 (1963); MCA 99-13-7 (1972).

 The issue of insanity is for the jury to determine and such determination must be upheld on appeal unless against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. See, Yarbrough v. State, 528 So. 2d 1130 (Miss. 1988); Hunter v. State, 489 So. 2d 1086 (Miss. 1986); Gill v. State, 488 So. 2d 801 (Miss. 1986); Gerlach v. State, 466 So. 2d 75 (Miss. 1985); Brady v. State,

 425 So. 2d 1347 (Miss. 1983). Furthermore, juries are not bound by an expert's testimony and may accept or reject it in whole or in part. See, Brady, supra; Matthews v. State, 394 So. 2d 304 (Miss. 1981).

 Consequently, there being ample evidence from which a jury could have determined White was not M'Naghten insane at the time of the offense, but instead understood the consequences of his actions, the verdict of the jury must be upheld.

 II. WAS WHITE DENIED A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL TRIAL DUE TO IRRELEVANT, INFLAMMATORY AND PREJUDICIAL EVIDENCE FROM INTERJECTION BY THE STATE OF EXTRANEOUS AND PREJUDICIAL MATTERS?

 White argues the State erroneously placed before the jury testimony that he may have been "stealing" from his employers in order to infer a motive for the shooting and to rebut this defense of insanity. He complains specifically of the following which occurred at trial during the cross-examination of Dr. Guild:

 Q. Do you find one of the reasons that you decided this close question that he just didn't have a motive for killing her?

 A. That's one factor that certainly goes in. That's one of the things you look at. If somebody's got a clear motive for something then you're much more suspicious that it's just a deliberate, pre-meditated act for obvious reasons.

 Q. And one way to do that would be to look at the history of whether or not he's taking money, a great deal of money from the company for expenses. Is that right?

 MR. STANFIELD:

 Your Honor, if the Court please, we object.

 THE COURT:

 Members of the jury, step into the jury room for a minute.

 MR. PETERS:

 We're going to prove this. We have the person subpoenaed.

 (THE JURY WAS EXCUSED FROM THE COURTROOM AND THE FOLLOWING PROCEEDINGS WERE HAD OUTSIDE THE PRESENCE AND HEARING OF THE JURY:)

 MR. PETERS:

 We intend to prove this, Your Honor, and we have advised the Defense Attorneys of that.

 MR. STANFIELD:

 No, Your Honor, he has not advised us and if he's going to prove it, he ought to have put it on in his case in chief. He's trying to sit back and sandbag us by coming in and re-opening his case under the guise of rebuttal to put on something that he didn't put on in his case in chief and to try to set the predicate by asking Dr. Guild these questions that Dr. Guild knows nothing about so he can deny them to give him that right. We would object to any testimony elicited along this line.

 THE COURT:

 Let me hear the question first. Ask the question.

 MR. PETERS:

 Q: Would the fact that he's been taking a great deal of money from the company in the form of expenses, almost equal to his salary, influence you at all?

 A: It would influence me. Anything you tell me would influence me. In this case I know there's - well, let me tell you what I know. He was under an unusual working relationship. He never took a vacation. He didn't leave work. He never took a vacation. They had discussed it several times back and forth and from what I can see of the situation the understanding was that he would be allowed to do some part-time jobs on his own since he didn't take a vacation. He could just take that time off and do some moonlighting work. That was one of the areas that led to controversy between them. Now, he was angry because they disputed some of the reimbursement that he had to the men. He felt that he had paid out of pocket expenses to some of the men because they were just common

 workmen and they want their money right then and there so they can go and do whatever they want to do with their money and he would pay them and felt that the Schwartzes would not reimburse him for that. That's one of the problems there.

 So there were some areas there but still, if you read what Mr. Schwartz says, if you listen to what they all say, there was never an open disagreement between any of them that I can find.

 MR. PETERS:

 That's exactly what I'm getting to, Your Honor. There was a legitimate dispute over expenses that he was having with them. There's no way we can prove it. The lady is dead, but a reasonable inference would be that he got mad with her for doing that. And I have told the defense attorney, even though he denies it, I have told him do you realize he was getting expenses equal to his salary, and the doctor himself knows it. I think I discussed it with Dr. Guild.

 THE COURT:

 The objection will be overruled. [Emphasis added]

 White argues the trial court erroneously allowed this information that he was allegedly taking exorbitant amounts of expense money to go before the jury because it was never proved by the State he took any money. Instead, following the overruling of the defendant's objection, the jury only heard the district attorney ask Dr. Guild if his opinion that White was M'Naghten insane would change if he knew that White was taking money and that Mrs. Schwartz was the bookkeeper. While this questioning ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.