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Hayes v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 10, 2014

BERNARD HAYES, III A/K/A BERNARD HAYES, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/06/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ROGER T. CLARK. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: CONVICTED OF CARJACKING AND SENTENCED TO FIFTEEN YEARS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, AND TO PAY RESTITUTION OF $13,144 AND EXTRADITION COSTS.

FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER, BY: BENJAMIN ALLEN SUBER.

FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: BILLY L. GORE.

BEFORE IRVING, P.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR.

OPINION

BARNES, J.

¶1. A Harrison County Circuit Court jury found Bernard Hayes guilty of carjacking Courtney Varhol's vehicle. The trial judge sentenced Hayes to fifteen years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), and ordered him to pay the victim $13,144 in restitution and any extradition costs. Finding no error, we affirm.

STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2. At approximately 9 p.m. on June 2, 2011, twenty-three-year-old Courtney Varhol was driving alone in her vehicle to her friend's house in Biloxi, Mississippi. She decided to go through the drive-through at the Taco Bell in Gulfport, Mississippi. As she was waiting in line, she noticed a man wearing a jacket walking through a grassy area between the drive-through and the road. When Varhol arrived at the speaker

Page 911

to give her order, the man got into her vehicle on the passenger side and said: " [I]f you scream I will f***ing kill you." Varhol tried to get out of her vehicle, but the man pushed her out, telling her to " just get the f*** out." As she exited her vehicle, Varhol tried to grab her wallet, but the assailant punched her in the jaw. Varhol then let go of her wallet. The man drove off in her vehicle, jumping the curb and driving through the grass, heading south on Cowan Road.

¶3. In a state of shock, Varhol ran to the drive-through window and yelled at Taco Bell employee Kearra Sharpe to call 911, and report that her vehicle had been stolen. Gulfport Patrol Officer Ashley Ruiz happened to be at the Taco Bell, and was flagged down about the incident. She sent out a BOLO (" be on the lookout" ) for a car matching the description of Varhol's vehicle -- a grey 2008 Nissan Altima with a personalized tag of CYOULKN. Officer Ruiz took the statements of Varhol and Sharpe, noting Varhol was visibly " very shaken up" about the carjacking.

¶4. Varhol described her assailant as a black male, approximately five feet eight inches tall, weighing 140 pounds, with " dread-like braids," wearing a jacket, and with " some pretty red lipstick smeared across his face." This description matched a description of an individual Officer Ruiz had encountered approximately thirty minutes prior to the incident, when she had received a " suspicious-person's call" about an individual approximately one-half a mile west of the Taco Bell. Officer Ruiz described the individual as having " short, messy dreads," wearing a light-pink t-shirt, capris, a brown jacket with fur on the cuffs and collar, and lipstick.

¶5. Gulfport Officer Walter Brightman was patrolling Highway 49 when the BOLO went out. He identified a vehicle matching the dispatch's description with the personalized license plate " CYOULKN," which was recklessly passing traffic. Officer Brightman turned on his blue lights and sirens, and engaged in pursuit. The vehicle was speeding at seventy to ninety miles per hour.

¶6. Biloxi Officer Jeff Quade, who works the night shift, was patrolling the west side of Biloxi that evening. He heard the BOLO about the vehicle, and identified a vehicle matching the Altima's description traveling at a high rate of speed down Highway 90, with two flat tires and no headlights. Sparks were shooting off of the tire rims. Officer Quade began pursuing the stolen vehicle with his blue lights flashing, followed by Officer Brightman. The pursuit lasted two more miles, when the vehicle wrecked, leaving the roadway and nearly rolling over. The lone occupant of the vehicle fled on foot, dropping a jacket. He also attempted to throw a wallet over a ...


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