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Mack v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

October 29, 2013

James Lee MACK, Jr. a/k/a James Lee Mack a/k/a James Mack, Appellant
v.
STATE of Mississippi, Appellee.

Office of State Public Defender by Erin Elizabeth Pridgen, attorney for appellant.

Page 231

Office of the Attorney General by Stephanie Breland Wood, attorney for appellee.

Before IRVING, P.J., CARLTON and JAMES, JJ.

IRVING, P.J..

¶ 1. On May 16, 2011, a Hinds County jury convicted James Lee Mack Jr. of capital murder, Count I, and arson, Count II. The circuit court sentenced Mack to life on Count I and to twenty years on Count II, with the sentence in Count II to run consecutively to the sentence in Count I, all in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, without eligibility for parole or probation. Mack filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict or, in the alternative, for a new trial, which the court denied. Feeling aggrieved, Mack appeals and argues that the circuit court erroneously prohibited him from presenting a meaningful defense by preventing him from cross-examining the State's main witness regarding the witness's prior conviction.

¶ 2. Finding no error, we affirm.

FACTS

¶ 3. Mack met Christopher Newsome over a chat line for homosexuals. Newsome contacted Mack and suggested that they meet to have sex. Mack agreed, but secretly intended to rob Newsome. The two met at a vacant house on Flag Chapel Road in Jackson, Mississippi. Mack arrived with a loaded .380 pistol. When Newsome arrived, Mack pulled out the pistol, pointed it at Newsome, and instructed him to go into the bathroom in the vacant house. Mack told Newsome to give him his keys and wallet, and Newsome complied. Soon after Newsome gave Mack his belongings, Mack killed Newsome. Mack drove Newsome's car to a nearby gas station and purchased gas. He returned to the house, poured gas in various rooms within the house, and set the house on fire.

¶ 4. Afterwards, Mack visited Dexter Walker, a friend of Mack's family and his previous roommate. Mack told Walker that he had " murked that n* * * *," which Walker understood to mean that Mack had killed someone. During Mack's visit with Walker, Walker saw Mack with Newsome's wallet and credit cards. After Mack left Walker's apartment, Walker contacted the Jackson Police Department. He told the police officers everything that Mack had told him and that he saw Mack driving Newsome's white Nissan.

¶ 5. Based on the information that officers received from Walker, a warrant was issued for Mack's arrest. Mack voluntarily reported to the police station. He detailed his involvement with Newsome's murder as follows:

Last night he pulled in the driveway. He hopped out of the car. I followed him towards the door. [I p]ulled the pistol out and I told him to ... go to the bathroom[,] and I told him to give me his wallet and his car keys. He gave me the wallet and the car keys. He turned around and I felt like he was about to do something because he had that look in his eyes, and I turned around. The gun was cocked and there wasn't anything left to do but shoot him. When he gave me that look, I feared for my life and I pulled the trigger. I left and came back. I went to the gas station on the hill and got some gas. Came back [,] thr[ew] it around the house, lit the match, and left out. I was just going to mess the scene up to make it look like a fire. I dash[ed] gas on the walls, front room floor, and the bathroom. I think I shot him in the chest and he fell back into the tub.

Page 232

¶ 6. At trial, Walker testified as the State's main witness. He stated that he did not believe that Mack had killed anyone until he saw him with Newsome's credit cards and wallet. However, Walker could not recall seeing Mack driving ...


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