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Schrotz v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 23, 2015

JOSEPH SNOW SCHROTZ APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/19/2014.

HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. ROGER T. CLARK, TRIAL JUDGE.

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

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: JEFFREY A. KLINGFUSS.

BEFORE LEE, C.J., ISHEE AND CARLTON, JJ.

LEE, C.J.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶1. Joseph Snow Schrotz was convicted of felony failure to stop a motor vehicle pursuant to the signal of a law-enforcement officer (felony failure to stop a motor vehicle) and willful or malicious trespass (misdemeanor trespass). For the felony-failure-to-stop conviction, Schrotz was sentenced as a habitual offender to five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. For the misdemeanor trespass, Schrotz was sentenced to serve six months in the custody of the Harrison County Sheriff's Department. Both sentences were ordered to be served consecutively. Schrotz filed post-trial motions, which were denied by the trial court. Schrotz now appeals and asserts ineffective assistance of counsel.

FACTS

¶2. Around 11 a.m. on May 27, 2013, Harrison County Sheriff's Deputy Brandon Hendry was patrolling Interstate 10 when his license-plate reader alerted him that the 2009 white Dodge Caliber he observed had been reported stolen. Deputy Hendry activated his lights and siren and attempted to stop the vehicle. When the driver of the vehicle refused to stop, a chase ensued, reaching speeds of up to 128 miles per hour. The driver of the vehicle ran stop signs and swerved into the opposite lane. He passed vehicles when passing was prohibited, and took curves at high rates of speed. Meanwhile, a number of Harrison County sheriff's deputies had constructed a roadblock with spike strips. When the driver of the vehicle saw the roadblock, he slowed the vehicle, jumped out, and ran into the woods.

¶3. During the course of the pursuit, Deputy Hendry had observed the driver manipulating something in the front passenger seat. Concerned for his safety, he stopped his patrol car one-hundred yards behind the point at which the driver of the vehicle had jumped out, and cautiously proceeded on foot. Knowing there was a canine team in the area that would be used to search for the driver, Deputy Hendry stopped his pursuit at the edge of the woods to avoid disturbing the driver's scent. Deputy Hendry gave a description of the driver of the vehicle as having a "slim build" and being "either [a] Hispanic male or [a] very light[-]skinned African-American male [wearing a] light T-shirt [] and blue jeans." Sergeant Bruce Carver, who was behind Deputy Hendry for the duration of the car chase, also testified that the driver was wearing dark pants and a "[l]ight[-]colored, white T-shirt."

¶4. The vehicle, which was still in gear, came to rest at a bridge. Three weapons were found in the vehicle, including an AR-15. A manhunt ensued, involving over twenty sheriff's deputies and several canine teams. Residents in the area were apprised of the situation and warned to keep the doors to their houses and vehicles locked.

¶5. The next morning, around 10 or 11 a.m., while Sergeant Carver and Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Agent Brian Sullivan were waiting for a helicopter and four-wheelers to arrive, resident Drew Smith approached and told Sergeant Carver that his home security alarm had been triggered and asked him to come search his home. Smith had left some work materials on the porch that morning, and had come home to retrieve them. The alarm was a silent alarm. He could see through the window of his front door that the light on the security alarm key pad was blinking, which meant the alarm had been triggered. Sergeant Carver, Agent Sullivan, and Smith walked around the house, checking the windows and doors for signs of a break-in. Unable to find a breached point of entry, Sergeant Carver and Smith entered the home. Agent Sullivan remained outside.

ΒΆ6. Sergeant Carver and Smith began a search of the home. When they reached Smith's daughter's bedroom, Smith looked into his daughter's bathroom, and saw someone in the shower. The person in the shower was wearing Smith's camouflage shirt. Smith motioned to Sergeant Carver that he had seen something. Concerned about Smith's safety, Sergeant Carver quickly escorted Smith back outside. With Smith back outside, Sergeant Carver and Agent Sullivan approached the front door. Agent Sullivan attempted to call the subject out of the house. When there was no response, Agent Sullivan went around the back of the house to watch for the subject, in case he tried to run, and waited for backup. Then he heard Sergeant Carver giving commands. Agent Sullivan ran back to the front door. The subject was coming from the hallway into the living room. He had his hands up. When he was ordered to get down on the ground, he refused. He continued to walk toward the officers. Both officers holstered their weapons and wrestled the man to the ground. After a brief struggle, ...


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