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O'Neal v. State

April 21, 1998

O'NEAL
v.
STATE



Before McMILLIN, P.j., Diaz, And King, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: McMILLIN, P.j.

ANTHONY O'NEAL A/K/A ANTHONY PETTY, 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: 05/23/96

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LEE J. HOWARD

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LOWNDES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: BURGLARY: SENTENCED TO SERVE A TERM OF 6 YRS IN THE MDOC

DISPOSITION AFFIRMED - 4/21/98

Anthony O'Neal was tried and convicted of burglary in the Circuit Court of Lowndes County. The indictment charged him with breaking and entering a room at a motel in the City of Columbus with the intent to commit an assault once therein. O'Neal has appealed his conviction claiming that the guilty verdict was against the weight of the evidence and that the trial court, therefore, erred in denying his post-trial motion for new trial. We find this issue to be without merit and affirm O'Neal's conviction.

The State presented uncontradicted evidence from one occupant of the motel room that someone broke out the glass window and entered the room through the window without permission from either of the occupants. Another witness for the State had been in an adjoining room but, upon hearing the commotion, entered the room through a connecting door. He testified that he witnessed a person engaged in a physical altercation with one of the occupants of the room. Both witnesses positively identified O'Neal as the person who committed these acts. The State also presented the testimony of the motel clerk that O'Neal had, shortly before the incident, requested information as to which room the victim of the assault was occupying. The clerk further testified that he observed O'Neal climb out of the broken-out window and flee. O'Neal put on no evidence after the State rested its case in chief.

The crime of burglary consists of breaking and entering a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime therein. Miss. Code Ann. § 97-17-19 (Rev. 1994). In this case, the underlying crime was assault. The evidence that O'Neal broke and entered the room was overwhelming. Evidence that O'Neal actually committed an assault in the moments immediately following his unauthorized entry into the motel room permitted the jury to draw a reasonable inference that he intended to commit such an assault at the time he entered the room. Williams v. State, 512 So. 2d 666, 670 (Miss. 1987).

On appeal, O'Neal merely claims that his accusers had "personal reasons" to accuse him of the crime, apparently arguing that their testimony was not credible. This argument is based on the proposition that the occupants of the room were O'Neal's former girlfriend and a male friend with whom she was romantically engaged at the time of the break-in.

The jury is the trier of fact. Jurors are charged with assessing the credibility of the witnesses and determining what weight to give their testimony. Wash v. State, 521 So. 2d 890, 896 (Miss. 1988). Once the jurors have performed their function and returned a guilty verdict in a criminal proceeding, the trial court may intervene and order a new trial only if the court is convinced that the verdict is so contrary to the weight of the credible evidence that to allow the verdict to stand would be unconscionable. McClain v. State, 625 So. 2d 774, 781 (Miss. 1993). The decision to order a new trial on this ground is left to the sound discretion of the trial court. Herring v. State, 691 So. 2d 948, 957 (Miss. 1997). If the ...


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