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Watson v. State

September 24, 1998

MICHAEL DONNELL WATSON, A/K/A DONNELL WASHINGTON
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



Sullivan, P.j., McRAE And Smith, JJ.

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

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/21/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JOHN LESLIE HATCHER

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: TUNICA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

BY: WAYNE SNUGGS JEAN SMITH VAUGHAN

DISTRICT ATTORNEY: LAWRENCE Y. MELLEN

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

¶1. On September 19, 1996, the appellant, Michael Donnell Watson, a/k/a Donnell Washington was indicted by the Tunica County, Mississippi Grand Jury for conspiracy to sell a controlled substance, cocaine, and for intent to sell a controlled substance, cocaine, in violation of Miss. Code § 97-1-1 and 41-29-139(a)(1) respectively. Also, indicted with Watson was R.D. Bowdery, a/k/a R.D. Franklin.

¶2. On March 27, 1997, Watson received a jury trial before Circuit Court Judge John L. Hatcher. A jury of his peers found Watson guilty on Count I, Conspiracy to Sell Cocaine, and not guilty on Count II, Intent to Sell Cocaine. Charges as to coconspirator R.D. Bowdery were nolle prossed. Watson was sentenced by Judge Hatcher to serve a term of five (5) years. Said sentence is to run consecutive to any other sentence previously imposed, and Watson is to pay the crime lab fee of two hundred dollars ($200.00) upon release from custody.

¶3. Aggrieved by the conviction and judgment, Watson moved the trial court for a j.n.o.v. and a new trial; the said motion was denied. Watson appeals to the Mississippi Supreme Court, raising the following issues: I. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING JURY INSTRUCTION D-1, THE PEREMPTORY INSTRUCTION AS TO THE CONSPIRACY TO SELL COCAINE? II. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ITS DENIAL OF THE MOTION FOR J.N.O.V. OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE A NEW TRIAL?

STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

¶4. Jerome Hudson, narcotics supervisor at the Tunica County Sheriff's Department and member of the North Central Narcotics Task Force, and Kerry Ellington, a fellow officer, were in the vicinity of Essie's Place in Prichard in an undercover vehicle. The two officers planned to meet a group of males at Essie's Place in an effort to buy crack cocaine.

¶5. When Hudson and Ellington arrived, they gave the double deuce sign indicating that they wanted to purchase either crack cocaine or marijuana. Michael Donnell Washington a/k/a Donnell Watson touched R.D. Franklin and motioned him to come to the undercover car. The officers asked Franklin for a twenty dollar piece of crack cocaine, and Franklin told the officers he would be right back. The officers circled the block while Franklin walked toward Watson; Hudson saw Watson hand something to Franklin. After the officers made the block, Franklin met them in the parking lot with what appeared to be twenty dollars worth of crack cocaine.

ΒΆ6. Hudson identified both the appellant and Franklin in the courtroom. A copy of the undercover videotape made by the officers was entered into evidence through Officer Kerry Ellington's identification of the tape. When Franklin told the officers to make the block, Officer Ellington saw Michael Watson have a conversation with Franklin, and he saw the appellant put his hand in his back pocket. He agreed that it took about two minutes to make the block, and that Hudson then gave Franklin twenty dollars for the alleged crack cocaine. Ellington described the content of the videotape as it was shown to ...


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