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Clunan v. State

February 23, 1999

THOMAS DAVID CLUNAN, SR. A/K/A THOMAS CLUNAN A/K/A JAMES OLIVER CLUNAN A/K/A CARL JAMES RIDGDELL APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE



Before McMILLIN, P.j., Diaz And King, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: McMILLIN, P.j.,

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/19/1997 TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JOSEPH H. LOPER JR. COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: CARROLL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: CONVICTED OF BURGLARY OF A DWELLING; SENTENCED TO TWENTY-FIVE YEARS IN MDOC WITHOUT PAROLE

DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED - 2/23/99

¶1. Thomas Clunan was convicted of burglary of a dwelling house and has appealed raising three issues which he asserts warrant a reversal of his conviction. We find the issues to be without merit and affirm.

I.

Facts

¶2. In 1997, Pete Nunley, a reserve officer for the Greenwood Police Department, discovered that his home had been burglarized and that a rifle and a pistol had been stolen, along with some items of jewelry belonging to his wife. That same day, Clunan sold a rifle in a local bar that was ultimately recovered by investigating officers and identified as Nunley's rifle. The purchaser of the rifle testified at trial that, sometime after the sale, Clunan admitted to him that he had broken into the Nunley home and stolen the rifle. The pistol taken from Nunley was recovered from the possession of Clunan by his wife and stepson and surrendered to the police. Much of the jewelry was pawned by Clunan and subsequently redeemed by his wife and daughter. They retained the jewelry until Clunan's arrest, at which time they surrendered the jewelry to the investigating officers.

¶3. After Clunan was arrested and in custody, he accosted an acquaintance who was employed by the Leflore County Sheriff and stated that he had "screwed up" by breaking into a law enforcement officer's residence without knowing it until he discovered the pistol. According to this witness, Clunan asked him to intercede with the Sheriff for him and volunteered to help out in future drug investigations in exchange for favorable treatment.

¶4. At trial, Clunan, testifying in his own behalf, claimed to have received the jewelry from his stepson. He also said that he had discovered the gun and pistol quite by surprise when he opened the trunk of his wife's recently-purchased automobile, and that he sold the rifle because of his alarm at suddenly finding himself in possession of these weapons. He denied having admitted his involvement in the burglary.

II.

The First Issue: The Sufficiency of the Evidence

¶5. Clunan attacks the sufficiency of the evidence by saying that the only evidence presented by the State was his possession of recently stolen merchandise and that this, standing alone, is insufficient to support a conviction of burglary, citing Murphy v. State, 566 So. 2d 1201, 1206 (Miss. 1990). This argument is singularly without merit, primarily because it is factually inaccurate. We review the evidence on this issue in the light most favorable to the State. McClain v. State, 625 So. 2d 774, 778 (Miss. 1993). The State produced two witnesses who testified that Clunan admitted to them his involvement in the break-in at the Nunley home. Such extra-judicial statements made by a defendant are admissible into evidence under Mississippi Rule of Evidence 801(d)2(A). Though Clunan denied having made those statements, that fact merely created a disputed issue of fact for the jury to resolve. McClain, 625 So. 2d at 778. Based on our standard of review, we must assume that the ...


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