Before McMILLIN, P.j., Diaz, And Payne, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: McMILLIN, P.j.,
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/01/96
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. BETTY W. SANDERS
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: SUNFLOWER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY
TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: MURDER: SENTENCED TO SERVE A TERM OF LIFE IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MDOC; DEFENDANT IS ORDERED TO PAY $443.20 COURT COSTS
DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED - 12/18/98
¶1. Clarence Dean stands convicted of murder in the death of Cameron Pierre, who was bludgeoned to death with a tire tool. Dean has appealed his conviction raising two issues for appellate review in hopes of having his conviction reversed. First, he claims that the trial court improperly admitted gruesome photographs of the victim, the sole purpose being to inflame the passions of the jury. Second, he mounts an attack on the quality of the State's evidence of his guilt, claiming it was insufficient to sustain a conviction, or, in the alternative, that the guilty verdict was against the weight of the credible evidence. We find his contentions to be without merit and affirm the verdict of the jury.
¶2. The State presented evidence that would tend to establish that Dean's cousin, Theodore Dean, enlisted him in a scheme to "take out" Pierre in settlement of some disagreement between them. In furtherance of that plan, there was evidence that the two lured Pierre into a car, ostensibly to drink and smoke marijuana. On a deserted stretch of road, the defendant, who was driving, reported that there was some problem with the car. After the defendant and Pierre had exited the car, Theodore Dean came out of the back seat with a pistol in his hand. Whatever his original purpose had been concerning the pistol, that purpose was thwarted when Pierre succeeded in wresting the pistol from Theodore Dean's control. Somehow, despite the fact that Pierre was now armed with a pistol and shooting at the defendant and his cousin, the defendant told the police he managed to unlock the car trunk, remove the tire tool, and strike Pierre a debilitating blow to the head. Theodore Dean, who had fled to avoid being shot then rejoined the defendant, who had re-entered the car, leaving Pierre lying inert in the road. The defendant, according to his account, urged Theodore Dean to join him in the car so that they could depart, but Theodore Dean obtained the same tire tool and used it to deliver multiple additional blows to Pierre's head. Theodore Dean claimed that he struck those additional blows because Pierre was still in control of the pistol and was apparently regaining movement after the incapacitating first blow delivered by the defendant. For reasons that are not particularly clear, the two cousins then removed Pierre's shoes and placed them in the car. They also drug his body out of the roadway, Theodore Dean testifying that they did so to avoid further injuring Pierre with the car as they drove away. The two subsequently attempted to dispose of the shoes, the tire tool, and the firearm by throwing them into a river as they neared the town of Moorhead.
The First Issue: Admission of the Photographs
¶3. Dean claims that the photographs of the victim were particularly gruesome and served no evidentiary purpose since the defense was prepared to concede that Pierre died as the result of the blows administered to his head by the defendant and his cousin, Theodore Dean. Dean would have this Court conclude that the sole purpose ...