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Faulkner v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

February 4, 2014

Cynthia Ann FAULKNER, Appellant
v.
STATE of Mississippi, Appellee.

Page 1241

David Walker, attorney for appellant.

Page 1242

Office of the Attorney General by Billy L. Gore, attorney for appellee.

Before GRIFFIS, P.J., ROBERTS and FAIR, JJ.

GRIFFIS, P.J.

¶ 1. Cynthia Faulkner was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) causing death, commonly referred to as DUI homicide, in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section 63-11-30(5) (Rev.2013). She was sentenced to twenty-five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). In this appeal, Faulkner argues that the trial court erred when it denied her motion for a new trial or, in the alternative, a judgment notwithstanding the verdict. We find no error and affirm.

FACTS

¶ 2. On May 19, 2011, at 1:30 p.m., a head-on automobile collision occurred in Batesville, Mississippi. Jerry Willard was driving a white Nissan Altima, and Faulkner was driving a Ford F-150 truck. Willard had two passengers in his car; his wife, Mary Ann, was in the front passenger seat, and his mother, Barbara Dover, was in the rear passenger seat. Dover died as a result of the accident, and Faulkner was taken to the hospital to be examined.

¶ 3. Just before the collision, Faulkner's truck had almost run into other vehicles. Three witnesses testified to near collisions with Faulkner. Two of the three witnesses testified that Faulkner's truck had swerved into their lane and nearly struck them head-on. One of these witnesses testified that the driver of the truck was a white female, and was " slumped over as if she was asleep or passed out." The other witness testified that she stopped her vehicle and started blowing the horn, at which point Faulkner " went back into her own lane and got out of mine." The third witness testified that he was traveling east on Highway 6 when a truck merged into his lane, scraped his truck, and then sideswiped the trailer he was pulling and knocked the tires off of the trailer.

¶ 4. Three Batesville police officers testified. Officer Michael Hardin testified that he was dispatched to the scene of the accident. He noticed that Faulkner seemed confused and did not understand what he was saying to her. He testified that her " eyes were glassy, [and she was] possibly under the influence." Officer Daniel Chandler testified that Faulkner was " very calm" but was " confused about what was going on." Officer Richard Stonestreet was asked to take a blood-test kit to the hospital for Faulkner to be tested. Officer Stonestreet witnessed the test being administered and then gave the blood sample to Officer Chandler. Officer Chandler delivered the blood sample to the crime laboratory.

¶ 5. Dr. Timothy Lamb, an emergency-room physician, treated Faulkner for lacerations to her forehead. Faulkner was asked about her medical history, and she identified five medications she was currently taking: Tylenol with codeine, Soma, Ultram, Ativan, and Prempro. According to Dr. Lamb, Tylenol with codeine is an opiate pain reliever, Soma is a muscle relaxer, Ultram is a nonnarcotic pain reliever, Ativan is an anti-anxiety drug, and Prempro is an estrogen replacement. Dr. Lamb also gave Faulkner a Glasgow coma test. Dr. Lamb testified that a Glasgow coma score is a score given to determine consciousness. Dr. Lamb gave Faulkner a score of 15, the best score possible. Dr. Lamb also conducted a urine drug screen report on Faulkner to determine whether there were drugs in her system. Faulkner tested positive for acetaminophen, benzodiazepines,

Page 1243

and opiates. Dr. Lamb testified that individuals who take these drugs can become confused and should not operate a vehicle. In fact, Dr. Lamb stated that he would not let someone leave the hospital and drive after taking any of these drugs, and that if they did, he would report that person to the authorities.

¶ 6. The Panola County coroner, Grace Grant-Gulledge, testified that Dover's cause of death was " blunt trauma to the chest." She also testified ...


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