The opinion of the court was delivered by: Prather, Chief Justice
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/02/97
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. BILLY JOE LANDRUM
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: JONES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY
DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED - 2/4/1999
STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND CASE
¶1. On July 14, 1994, Jeffery McCune was arrested by the Newton Police Department on warrants for burglary and aggravated assault which had been issued against him on October 29, 1992. McCune notes that no indictment had been obtained against him in the intervening period between the issuance of the warrants and arrest. McCune escaped from jail four days after his July, 1994 arrest, but he was arrested once again in August of 1996.
¶2. Upon returning to jail, McCune escaped once again, and he was later found and extradited from Texas. McCune was tried and convicted for the 1996 jail escape and sentenced to five years in prison, with two of those years suspended. McCune appeals to this Court.
I. Whether the weight of all the evidence supports a conviction of jail escape.
¶3. McCune's primary argument on appeal is that, due to alleged police and prosecutorial misconduct in failing to timely serve the 1992 arrest warrants and/or obtain an indictment against him, he was not in "lawful custody" in the Jones County jail at the time of his escape in 1996. McCune argues that he should have accordingly been entitled to a directed verdict on the escape charge.
¶4. McCune's attorney stated in his opening statement before the jury that:
Now I want y'all to imagine somebody just picking you up and taking you to jail for something that you didn't do and that no one has pursued since 1992, and you feel like, well what am I doing here ? Why am I here ? I would try to leave. I guarantee you I would leave in a heartbeat, if they had me in jail for something I didn't do, and I could.
It is thus apparent that McCune's trial strategy was to concede that he had escaped from jail, but to argue that he should be acquitted due to the fact that his confinement was, supposedly, unlawful. This Court has held that "lawful custody" is required to sustain an ...