DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/15/2013
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: ADAMS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. FORREST A. JOHNSON JR.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER GEORGE T. HOLMES
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BILLY L. GORE JOHN R. HENRY JR.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: RONNIE LEE HARPER
BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., ISHEE AND MAXWELL, JJ.
¶1. On July 12, 2012, police searched Preston Overton's home in Natchez and found cocaine and a .38-caliber revolver on the dresser in his bedroom. A jury trial was held in the Adams County Circuit Court on March 15, 2013, and the jury found him guilty of possession of cocaine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Overton was sentenced to serve fifteen years for possession of cocaine and ten years for possession of a firearm, in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with the sentences running consecutively. Overton appealed, asserting the following issues: (1) the circuit court erred in excluding two defense witnesses, and (2) Overton's trial attorney was constitutionally ineffective. Finding no error, we affirm.
¶2. On July 12, 2012, Lieutenant George Pirkey and Deputy David Washington conducted a "knock and talk" at a house in Natchez after being informed that there was suspicious drug activity at the residence. The home belonged to Overton, who had inherited it from his grandmother when she passed away in 2009.
¶3. The witnesses' recollections of how the events played out on that day differed between the two police officers and Overton. Both Lt. Pirkey and Dep. Washington testified at trial that once they arrived at the house, they knocked on the door and Overton answered. He allowed the two officers to enter the house, and they explained the reason for their visit. At the time, Overton and his girlfriend, Christine Dunmore, were the only two people in the house. When asked if there was any illegal drug activity occurring at the house, Overton admitted that there was marijuana in the house. Lt. Pirkey noticed an ashtray sitting next to the couch containing "a roach from a blunt" that Overton said he and his girlfriend had smoked prior to the officers' arrival. Lt. Pirkey and Dep. Washington asked if they could search the home and gave Overton permission to refuse their request if he wished to do so, but Overton consented to the search both verbally and in writing.
¶4. Once the consent was signed, Lt. Pirkey asked if Overton lived in the house alone, and he stated that he did, but that Dunmore stayed there sometimes. The two officers began searching the three-bedroom house and, in the first bedroom, they found several pieces of a white rock-like substance on the dresser, which field tested positive for powder cocaine. They also found a razor blade, a set of digital scales, and an H&R .38-caliber revolver, also on the dresser. The officers believed the room to be Overton's because they found some of his personal belongings, including documents with Overton's name and birth date on them.
¶5. Upon discovering the cocaine, Lt. Pirkey placed Overton under arrest. Overton was read his Miranda rights and taken to the police station. Once he was at the station, Overton submitted a written statement admitting that the marijuana and crack cocaine belonged to him.
¶6. When asked about the other two bedrooms, Lt. Pirkey testified that the second bedroom appeared to be a storage room, and it did not contain a bed or dresser. He then testified that the third bedroom appeared to belong to a female and ...