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Oatis v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

September 9, 2014

MARLON LAVELLE OATIS A/K/A MARLIN OATIS A/K/A MARLON OATIS A/K/A MARLON L. OATIS, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

Page 1016

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/13/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LAWRENCE PAUL BOURGEOIS JR. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: CONVICTED OF FELONY DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE AND SENTENCED, AS A HABITUAL OFFENDER, TO FIVE YEARS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, WITHOUT ELIGIBILITY FOR PAROLE OR PROBATION.

FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER, BY: HUNTER NOLAN AIKENS.

FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: SCOTT STUART.

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

OPINION

Page 1017

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

ROBERTS, J.

¶1. Marlon Lavelle Oatis challenges the weight and sufficiency of the evidence that led to his May 15, 2013 conviction by a jury in the Harrison County Circuit Court. Additionally, Oatis submits that the jury's general verdict, without designating whether he was guilty of " common law" driving under the influence (DUI) and/or " per se" DUI, is reversible error. For the reasons below, we find the issues raised in Oatis's appeal to be without merit, and we affirm his conviction and sentence.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2. In March 2011, Oatis was charged, as a habitual offender pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-81 (Rev. 2007), on two counts: DUI in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section 63-11-30(1)(a) (Rev. 2013) and DUI in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section 63-11-30(1)(c) (Rev. 2013). His habitual-offender status was based upon three prior felony DUI convictions. Additionally, as a result of his three prior DUI convictions, he was charged under Mississippi Code Annotated section 63-11-30(2)(c) (Rev. 2013), making the two counts in the present case felony DUIs. Oatis's jury trial began on May 14, 2013, and ended the following day, May 15, 2013. The events leading to his arrest, indictment, and conviction were presented through the following testimony and other evidence at his trial.

¶3. According to his testimony at trial, Officer Steven Ramsey was working as a patrolman for the City of Gulfport on June 24, 2010, when he responded to a motor-vehicle accident at 1:20 a.m. Officer Ramsey arrived at the accident scene, where only one car was present. The occupants of the car sad the other car involved was a black car driven by a black male, and he had continued driving southbound on 30th Avenue. Officer Ramsey continued driving southbound on 30th Avenue for approximately one block, when he located a black car with damage consistent with being in a recent accident. The black car was parked in a gas-station parking lot with a black male, later identified as Oatis, sitting in the driver's seat behind the steering wheel. The black car was parked so close to a concrete wall that no one could enter or exit the black car from the passenger side. Officer Ramsey testified that he approached the driver's side and spoke to Oatis through a half-open window. He described Oatis's demeanor as stunned and angry. Officer Ramsey also stated that he smelled an intoxicating odor coming from the car, and Oatis told him he had consumed two twenty-four ounce high-gravity beers before driving. According to Officer Ramsey, Oatis could not exit the car because the concrete wall blocked the exit on the passenger side, and the door on the driver's side could not be opened due to damage from the accident. The fire department was later able to open the driver's side door, and Oatis was taken to the hospital after complaining about pain.

¶4. Sergeant Brandon Clark of the Gulfport Police Department testified that during his interaction with Oatis, Oatis's demeanor ranged from calm to angry, irritated, and belligerent. Sergeant Clark

Page 1018

also testified that he smelled an intoxicating odor coming from Oatis, as well as Oatis having slurred speech and bloodshot/glassy eyes. Oatis also informed Sergeant Clark that he was the one who had a green light at the intersection. Sergeant Clark did not conduct any field sobriety tests because Oatis complained of pain and was taken to the hospital via ambulance. Sergeant Clark did obtain a warrant to draw Oatis's blood for analysis, which Nurse Jeanne Torres at Memorial Hospital's emergency room did draw and turn over to the police department approximately an hour and a half ...


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