Before Bridges, C.j., Coleman, And Diaz, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Coleman, J., For The Court:
Hawkins v. State, 96-KA-00250-COA
THIS OPINION IS NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION AND MAY NOT BE CITED, PURSUANT TO M.R.A.P. 35-B
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/22/95
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LAMAR PICKARD
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: COPIAH COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY
TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: GUILTY OF FELONIOUS CHILD ABUSE: SENTENCED TO SERVE A TERM OF 16 YEARS WITH THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
A grand jury in Copiah County indicted the appellant, Timothy Hawkins, for felony child abuse as defined by Section 97-5-39 (2) of the Mississippi Code. A jury in the Circuit Court of that county returned a verdict of "Guilty as charged" against Hawkins, and the trial court sentenced him to serve sixteen years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. In his appeal from the trial court's judgment and sentence, Hawkins presents for our review and resolution the following three issues, which we quote verbatim from his brief:
1. The trial court erred in denying defendant's request for a directed verdict of not guilty and a peremptory instruction of not guilty.
2. The trial court erred in refusing to grant defendant's motion for a new trial on the ground that the verdict of the jury was contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence.
3. The trial court erred in admitting the photographs of Jade Copeland, the minor child involved, that were admitted as Exhibits: S-1 through S-4.
We resolve all three issues adversely to Hawkins and affirm the judgment and sentence of the trial court.
We recite the facts from the perspective which is consistent with the jury's verdict that Hawkins was guilty of felony child abuse. On June 5, 1995, the appellant, Timothy Hawkins, lived with Rhonda Copeland and her two-year-old son, Jade, in apartment C-4 of the Jackson Street Apartments located in Crystal Springs. Apartment C-4 was located diagonally above apartment C-2, in which Cornelius Thomas lived. During the evening of June 5, 1995, Thomas, who was at home in apartment C-2, "heard some type of commotion like thumping going on the side of the wall or somebody hitting the floor" coming from apartment C-4. When the thumping noise stopped, Thomas decided to go back to sleep, but then the thumping noise resumed.
In the meantime, Christine Powell, who lived in apartment C-1 next to Thomas's apartment, returned to her apartment between 10:15 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. after she had finished working earlier that night. Once inside her apartment, Ms. Powell heard noises coming from the apartment located immediately above hers. C-4 was the apartment located directly above hers. Ms. Powell heard the thumping noises for about fifteen minutes, after which she left her apartment and went to her next-door neighbor's apartment to ask her neighbor to come to her apartment to see whether her neighbor could hear the same sounds. However, Ms. Powell could not summon her neighbor, who she assumed was sleeping, so she returned to her apartment. When Ms. Powell emerged from her apartment a second time, she met Hawkins, the appellant, running down the stairs from apartment C-4, with Jade Copeland lying across and in his arms. Ms. Powell saw Hawkins knock on Thomas's door, and she heard Hawkins say that Jade was dead.
Thomas also heard Hawkins running down the stairs and knocking on his apartment door. When Thomas opened the door, Hawkins told Thomas that "Jade had fallen off a three-wheeler and hit his head on the coffee table." Hawkins asked Thomas to take Jade and him to the hospital. Thomas "kind of panicked" because Jade's breathing was irregular. Thomas also noticed that "there was some swelling that had appeared... around his head." Thomas told Hawkins that he "really wasn't feeling good." As Thomas was looking for his shirt, he saw the headlights of Gerome LeFleur's car shining through the window of Thomas's apartment window. Gerome LeFleur was a Crystal Springs police officer who had ended his duty-shift around 11:00 p.m. and was returning to his apartment. LeFleur was also the manager of the Jackson Street Apartments.
Holding Jade in his arms, Hawkins ran to LeFleur's car as LeFleur was getting out of it. Hawkins told LeFleur that Jade was sick. When LeFleur asked Hawkins what was wrong with Jade, Hawkins replied that Jade "had stood up on a big wheel and [fallen] onto a table and hit his chest." LeFleur took Hawkins, who continued to hold Jade, to LeFleur's apartment, from where LeFleur called Emergency Medical Services. While LeFleur and Hawkins waited for help to arrive, Hawkins would shake Jade and tell him to wake up and not go to sleep. Jade would go in and out of consciousness, but LeFleur told Hawkins, "Don't shake the child, just wait until the ambulance [gets here]."
When the ambulance crew arrived at LeFleur's apartment, they determined that it was necessary to transport Jade to the University Medical Center Hospital in Jackson. There, a surgeon removed a large blood clot on the surface of the right side of Jade's brain immediately beneath his skull. The blood clot had pushed Jade's brain to the other side of his head by about ...