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Williams v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 17, 2014

ROBERT WILLIAMS A/K/A ROBERT BYRD A/K/A ROBERT GENE BYRD, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/04/2013.

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: RANKIN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. WILLIAM E. CHAPMAN III. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: CONVICTED OF EVASION CAUSING DEATH AND SENTENCED AS A HABITUAL OFFENDER TO FORTY YEARS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE, PROBATION, OR SUSPENSION OR REDUCTION OF SENTENCE.

FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER, BY: GEORGE T. HOLMES, PHILLIP BROADHEAD.

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

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

OPINION

Page 65

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

FAIR, J.

¶1. Robert Williams led police on a fourteen-mile chase through the Jackson suburbs that ended when he ran a red light and struck another vehicle, killing its driver. Williams was tried for vehicular evasion causing death. The theory of his defense was that the pursuing officers were actually responsible for the outcome. Williams was convicted, and he appeals. We affirm.

FACTS

¶2. The morning of February 5, 2012, a Sunday, the manager of the Kroger grocery store on County Line Road in Ridgeland, Mississippi, observed a male (Williams) and a female accomplice attempting to steal two carts of meat and seafood, valued at about $600. The manager called the police and prevented the couple from taking the items, but he did not stop them from leaving the store. The two left in the same vehicle, which had no license plate.

¶3. Williams was driving. As he was leaving, two vehicles from the Ridgeland Police Department were arriving. Williams drove aggressively toward one of the police cars and turned away from it at the last second to exit the parking lot. The police pursued with their sirens and flashing lights activated. One officer used a loudspeaker to command Williams to stop, to no avail.

¶4. Williams drove through a red light and turned onto Lake Harbor Drive, proceeding east onto Spillway Road. As Williams did this, he narrowly missed two vehicles preparing to turn at an intersection. On the spillway road, Williams exceeded 80 miles per hour and, at times, drove on the shoulder to pass slower traffic. Williams continued into Rankin County, running a stop sign and racing past police vehicles that attempted to block his way. Authorities from Rankin County joined in the efforts to stop Williams; eventually there were four or five police vehicles in pursuit.

¶5. When Williams reached Highway 471, he turned onto the Highway 25 West ramp, toward Jackson, proceeded up the ramp a short distance, then made an abrupt turn back the way he came. During this maneuver, one of the pursuing police cars struck Williams's vehicle, but Williams managed to make a complete circle and get back onto the ramp toward Jackson. On Highway 25, Williams reached more than 100 miles per hour. When he came to the intersection with

Page 66

Grants Ferry Road, Williams had a red light. Traffic was stopped in the two westbound lanes of Highway 25, so Williams attempted to proceed through the intersection by way of the right turn lane, which was unoccupied. At this point Williams was traveling at about 60 miles per hour.

¶6. At the same time, Milinda Clark was on the way to pick up her children from Sunday school. She had the right of way, so she entered the intersection from Grants Ferry Road and passed in front of Williams's vehicle as he was running the red light. Williams hit the brakes, but he was only able to slow to an estimated 54 miles per hour when he struck Clark's vehicle on its driver's side. Clark died at the scene from blunt force injuries sustained in the ...


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