DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/16/96 TRIAL JUDGE: HON. BARRY W. FORD COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LEE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT
TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: POSSESSION OF A WEAPON BY A FELON: SENTENCED TO SERVE A TERM OF 1 ½ YEARS IN MDOC; DEFENDANT IS ORDERED TO PAY COURT COSTS
The opinion of the court was delivered by: EN Banc McMILLIN, P.j., For The Court
THIS OPINION IS NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION AND MAY NOT BE CITED, PURSUANT TO M.R.A.P. 35-B
NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY
Quentin Larue Crisp has appealed his conviction by a Lee County Circuit Court jury under section 97-37-5 of the Mississippi Code of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Crisp raises a number of issues dealing with alleged errors by the trial court in ruling on the admissibility of evidence. He also claims that, once all improperly admitted evidence is excluded from consideration, the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to sustain his conviction. We find Crisp's issues to be without merit and affirm his conviction.
The State's proof consisted of one witness, Ronny Thomas, an officer with the Tupelo Police Department. Thomas testified that it was a part of his duties to routinely review the records of pawn shop transactions in the area. These records, in the form of "pawn tickets," must be maintained by pawn shops per section 75-67-305 of the Mississippi Code. The records must be available for inspection by law enforcement authorities under section 75-67-309.
Thomas testified that, in the course of his duties, he noticed a record indicating that Crisp had pawned a handgun at Northside Pawn Shop in the City of Tupelo. Thomas recognized Crisp's name and was aware that he had previously been convicted of aggravated assault. Through Thomas's testimony, a copy of the pawn ticket bearing what appeared to be Crisp's signature and the handgun matching the description in the pawn ticket were introduced into evidence. Officer Thomas testified that he obtained both the ticket and the gun from the pawn shop.
Officer Thomas also testified that Crisp, after his arrest, gave a voluntary statement indicating that he had obtained the gun from a young friend he identified only as Joey. Crisp claimed that he admonished the young man that he should not be carrying a gun and that, to assist him in getting rid of the gun, the two took the weapon to the pawn shop where Crisp pawned it for $40, giving $20 to Joey and keeping $20 for himself.
The State rested at the Conclusion of Officer Thomas's testimony. Crisp's motion for a directed verdict was denied. The defense proceeded to call several witnesses, including the defendant himself.
At trial, Crisp told a story different from the one related in his statement to Officer Thomas. He indicated that the gun actually belonged to his girlfriend and that he had insisted, as a condition of his moving in with her, that she get rid of the gun. He said that he accompanied her to the pawn shop and consented to his name appearing on the pawn ticket only because the shop owner required a driver's license before accepting the handgun in pawn and Crisp's girlfriend did not have a driver's license. Crisp admitted that he signed the pawn ticket but denied having ever been in physical possession of the gun. He said that he was untruthful in his earlier statement to the police because he did not want to involve his girlfriend in the matter. The girlfriend also testified and corroborated Crisp's version of events. Crisp attempted to call the pawn shop operator as a witness, claiming that the owner would substantiate his version of the facts. However, the operator, once called to the stand and placed under oath, repeatedly refused to answer any questions concerning the transaction, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The jury returned a verdict of guilty and Crisp's post-judgment motions at the trial level were unsuccessful. This appeal ensued.
The Admission of Evidence
Crisp claims the trial court erred in admitting, over his objection, the pawn ticket, the handgun he was alleged to have possessed, and the documentary ...