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Thomas v. State

March 24, 1998

THOMAS
v.
STATE



Before McMILLIN, P.j., Herring, And Hinkebein, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hinkebein, J.

LAVELL THOMAS, APPELLANT v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

THIS OPINION IS NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION AND MAY NOT BE CITED, PURSUANT TO M.R.A.P. 35-B

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/30/96

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ANDREW CLEVELAND BAKER

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: PANOLA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: CAPITAL MURDER: SENTENCED TO SERVE A TERM OF LIFE IMPRISONMENT IN THE MDOC WHICH SHALL NOT BE REDUCED OR SUSPENDED, NOR SHALL DEFENDANT BE ELIGIBLE FOR PAROLE, PROBATION, EARNED TIME, GOOD TIME, OR ANY OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE TIME

DISPOSITION AFFIRMED

Lavell Thomas was convicted in the Panola County Circuit Court of capital murder. For his crime, Thomas was sentenced to serve a term of life imprisonment without the benefit of probation or parole. Aggrieved by his conviction, Thomas appeals to this Court on the following grounds:

I. THE CIRCUIT COURT ERRED IN GRANTING A FLIGHT INSTRUCTION.

II. THE CIRCUIT COURT ERRED IN ALLOWING SHERIFF BANKS TO TESTIFY AS AN EXPERT WITNESS WHEN NOT DISCLOSED AS SUCH IN, APPELLEE'S DISCOVERY.

III. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN PROHIBITING NATHAN FONDREN FROM TESTIFYING REGARDING MR. KING'S INVOLVEMENT IN CRACK COCAINE AND CREDIT CARD FRAUD.

IV. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING INTO EVIDENCE TESTIMONY REGARDING THE APPELLANT'S FLIGHT FROM JAIL.

V. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE APPELLANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS APPELLANT'S STATEMENTS.

VI. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING INTO EVIDENCE ENLARGED PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE VICTIM.

VII. THE CUMULATIVE EFFECT OF ERRORS OR NEAR ERRORS CONSTITUTED A VIOLATION OF THE APPELLANT'S RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL.

VIII. WHETHER OR NOT THE CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE ERRED IN ALLOWING A SENTENCING PHASE OF THE TRIAL BASED UPON MISSISSIPPI CODE ANNOTATED SECTION 47-7-3(1)(d)(ii)(f).

IX. THE VERDICT OF THE JURY OF GUILTY OF CAPITAL MURDER IS AGAINST THE SUBSTANTIAL AND OVERWHELMING WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE.

Holding these assignments of error to be without merit, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

FACTS

On the night of May 22, 1995, Thomas, then 19 years old, was driving his younger brother Marcus and two of their teenage friends, Vermel Randle and Frederick Carradine, around the streets of Greenwood, Mississippi in his sister's vehicle. According to the trial testimony of Randle and Carradine, at some point during the evening, Thomas suggested that the group travel from Leflore County to Memphis, Tennessee, where he "was going to get a car." While en route, however, the four were forced to stop in Batesville, Mississippi to purchase gasoline. Thomas' quest to find an automobile ended there in Panola County.

As he drove away from the gas station, Thomas spotted a blue Ford Mustang at a nearby car wash and announced to his companions that it would soon be his. He promptly turned in and exited his sister's vehicle, leaving the others behind. He then, with pistol displayed, commanded the Mustang's lone occupant to get out. An unarmed Willie Curt King did so, but refused to hand over his keys as Thomas demanded. As both Randle and Carradine later recalled, King's non-threatening but stern reply was "you are going to have to kill me before you take my car." From the trial testimony of these accomplices, Thomas proceeded to do precisely that. Apparently, he ordered King onto the ground and then pulled the trigger four times. With King mortally wounded, Thomas then instructed his brother to climb into the passenger seat of the Mustang and as he drove ...


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