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Greenlee v. State

June 18, 1998

AARON GREENLEE
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



Before Sullivan, P.j., Roberts And Waller, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Roberts, Justice, For The Court:

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 3/26/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. R. I. PRICHARD, III

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LAMAR COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED:

MANDATE ISSUED:

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

¶1. Aaron Greenlee, appeals from the circuit court of Lamar County where he was indicted for murder of his mother, Shelia Greenlee, in violation of Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-19(1)(a). After two days of motion hearings before the Lamar County Circuit Court, Judge R.I. Prichard, III presiding, the case proceeded to trial where after three days of testimony, Greenlee was found guilty of murder. The trial court sentenced him to serve a term of life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. After denial of post-trial motions, Greenlee filed a timely Notice of Appeal raising the following issues:

I. WHETHER THE CIRCUIT COURT ERRED IN ALLOWING THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI TO MAKE A SUBSTANTIVE AMENDMENT TO THE INDICTMENT WITHOUT RECALLING THE GRAND JURY SO THAT THE AMENDED INDICTMENT WOULD COMPORT WITH THE PREREQUISITES OF MISS. CODE ANN. § 97-3-19(1)(A)?

II. WHETHER THE CIRCUIT COURT ERRED IN REFUSING TO GRANT DEFENSE INSTRUCTION D-12?

III. WHETHER THE CIRCUIT COURT ERRED IN REFUSING THE DEFENSE MOTION FOR MISTRIAL WHEN THE JURY DELIBERATING AFTER TWO HOURS AND FORTY MINUTES SENT A NOTE TO THE COURT SAYING THEY COULD NOT REACH A DECISION?

IV. WHETHER THE CIRCUIT COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING GREENLEE'S ORAL STATEMENT MADE TO CORPORAL MICHAEL HAMILTON OF THE ORANGE BEACH, ALABAMA, POLICE DEPARTMENT?

V. WHETHER THE CIRCUIT COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING GREENLEE'S WRITTEN STATEMENT GIVEN TO INVESTIGATOR RICK ROUSE OF THE ORANGE BEACH, ALABAMA, POLICE DEPARTMENT?

VI. WHETHER THE CIRCUIT COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING GREENLEE'S STATEMENT TAKEN BY INVESTIGATOR DAVID BULLOCK OF THE LAMAR COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT?

STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

¶2. On May 17, 1996, Aaron Greenlee (hereinafter "Greenlee") was at his home in Lamar County with his mother, Shelia Greenlee. He asked his mother about using the family van to go to the fair with some of his friends. This Discussion quickly turned into an argument which resulted in his mother denying his request to go to the fair. She told him to go to his room, which he did. Enough time passed for Shelia to fall asleep on the couch in the living room. Greenlee alleges that it was at this time that he took three hits of LSD. However, it is important to note that he never explained to the officers investigating the crime that he had taken LSD. This fact was brought up for the first time at the trial. Afterwards, Greenlee went to his mother's bedroom to retrieve his 30-30 rifle. He took the gun to his room and loaded it with two bullets. He walked into the den where his mother was sleeping and aimed the rifle at the top of his mother's head. He fired the rifle into her head, killing his mother.

¶3. Shortly thereafter, Greenlee took the family van and began driving to Florida. At some point he fell asleep at the wheel of the car and was involved in an accident at Wind Drift condominiums in Orange Beach, Alabama. Greenlee had run the van off the road and struck the flower bed and kept going about another 250 feet. The police were notified and arrived on the scene. During the suppression hearing, Officer Aaron Wyatt testified that he was the first officer to arrive. He testified that he called in the tag number then approached the van. It was at this time that Greenlee stepped out from the backseat of the van. Officer Wyatt asked Greenlee a few routine investigatory questions such as his age, what had happened back at the condominiums, and whether he was alone. At this particular point in time, the dispatcher radioed back in 10-0, use caution, suspect possibly involved in a homicide. Officer Wyatt asked Greenlee to put his hands on the van and he began to pat Greenlee down for a weapons search. However, Greenlee was neither arrested nor handcuffed. Officer Wyatt further testified that Greenlee did not appear drunk or on drugs of any kind.

¶4. At the suppression hearing, Corporal Hamilton testified that he received a report on a traffic accident around 1:40 a.m. from Ono Island Security. He stated that he proceeded to the area to see if he could locate the vehicle that had been involved in the accident. On the way to the scene, Corporal Hamilton received a dispatch that the vehicle was possibly occupied by a white juvenile male that was wanted in connection with a homicide from Lamar County, Mississippi. When Corporal Hamilton arrived at the scene he got out of his patrol car and went to assist Officer Wyatt. He patted Greenlee down to see if there were any weapons on him and asked him for his name and date of birth. Corporal Hamilton radioed the information in and the dispatcher responded that Greenlee was a suspect in a homicide. Corporal Hamilton handcuffed Greenlee and walked him back to seat him in the rear seat of his patrol car, placing him in custody. Corporal Hamilton further testified that it was at this point that he asked Greenlee where he was staying or where his parents might be. He stated that this was standard question when taking a juvenile into custody. Greenlee responded to Corporal Hamilton's question by stating, "My mom pissed me off and I shot her." Corporal Hamilton then asked Greenlee if he had any guns in the van, to which Greenlee responded, "I put the gun back in my bedroom." It was at this point that Corporal Hamilton told Greenlee not to make any more statements concerning the incident, that all he wanted to know was if he had any guns in the van. Greenlee responded that he did not. Corporal Hamilton then left the scene and took Greenlee to the police station. Corporal Hamilton further testified that he did not question Greenlee any further as to the incident and that the questions asked were investigatory and not an interrogation. When they arrived at the police station, Corporal Hamilton handed Greenlee over to Investigator Rouse. Corporal Hamilton also testified that Greenlee did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

¶5. Investigator Rouse testified that on the morning of May 18th, he advised Greenlee of his Miranda rights by way of reading a form document that is used particularly when there is a juvenile in custody. He further stated that Sergeant Dodd was present during this time. Investigator Rouse testified that during this time, Greenlee appeared alert, attentive and did not seem to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Rouse stated that he fully went over the waiver of rights contained at the bottom of the form and asked if Greenlee understood everything. Greenlee responded that he did. Greenlee further stated that he was willing to talk to Rouse and signed the waiver. The oral interview began at 2:25 a.m. and concluded at 2:31 a.m. on the 18th of May, 1996. The reading and explaining of rights and Greenlee's waiver of these rights was recorded on tape. At 2:47, Rouse went over a written statement that Greenlee wrote in his own words and hand-writing. There was a second recorded oral interview from 2:49 until 2:54. Before this second oral statement was given, Rouse asked Greenlee if he still understood his rights and was willing to answer questions. Greenlee replied, "Yes."

¶6. Investigator Bullock and Officer Steve Reid, who were both with the Lamar County Sheriff's Department, went to Orange Beach, Alabama to get Greenlee. They arrived at the police station around 8:00 a.m. Corporal Hamilton informed them of the accident that had occurred, where the accident was, and the statement that Greenlee had given him. It was at this time that Greenlee was brought into the office with Bullock. Bullock gave Greenlee his Miranda warnings and told him he wanted to talk to him about what had happened at his residence. Bullock went over a standard form with Greenlee and Greenlee signed the waiver. Greenlee explained his story of what happened the day before at his home. Bullock repeated the statement to Greenlee and asked him if that was the way it happened. Greenlee agreed and Bullock put the statement in writing and read it back to Greenlee. Greenlee read the statement and then signed it. The trial court noted at trial that Bullock had marked a line through "Lamar County Sheriff's Department" and put "Orange Beach Police Department" at some time subsequent to May 18, 1996. However, the trial court stated that the alteration made was not a material one.

ΒΆ7. After interviewing Greenlee, Bullock was advised that he would have to go before a magistrate to have extradition waived so that Greenlee could go back to Mississippi. After processing was completed, Bullock and Officer Weir brought Greenlee back to Lamar County Sheriff's Office where he would remain until trial. Before leaving Orange Beach, Alabama, Bullock was provided with an accident report ...


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