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Woods v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

January 24, 2017

KAREN LYNN WOODS A/K/A KAREN WOODS APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/10/2015

         NESHOBA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. MARCUS D. GORDON.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: EDMUND J. PHILLIPS JR.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: LAURA HOGAN TEDDER.

         EN BANC.

          CARLTON, J.

         ¶1. A Neshoba County jury convicted Karen Woods of burglary of a dwelling. See Miss. Code Ann. § 97-17-23 (Rev. 2014). On appeal, Woods raises the following issues: (1) whether the circuit court erred by admitting into evidence her pretrial confession; and (2) whether the circuit court erred by overruling the defense's objection to part of Investigator Ralph Sciple's testimony. Finding no error, we affirm Woods's conviction and sentence.

         FACTS

         ¶2. A grand jury indicted Woods and Randy Goodin for the April 28, 2014 burglary of Betty Triplett's home. At Woods's trial, Triplett testified that she left her home on the day of the burglary to seek shelter from a tornado. Triplett stated that she and her son, Steve, returned home later that same day to find that a back bedroom window had been broken. Triplett said that she observed glass both inside and outside the house where the window had been broken. In addition, Triplett stated that there was blood throughout the house and on a decorative vase she owned. Triplett also testified that several items, including some jewelry, clothing, and guns, were stolen.

         ¶3. Triplett testified that she had met Woods prior to the burglary. According to Triplett, Woods worked at a restaurant where Triplett sometimes ate. Triplett stated that, following the burglary, Woods contacted her to apologize for the break-in. Triplett further testified that Woods offered to replace Triplett's broken window and to return Triplett's stolen property.

         ¶4. On cross-examination, Triplett denied the defense's accusation that Woods came to her house on the day of the burglary to buy pills. Triplett testified that she had never sold Woods any pills although Woods had previously asked her for pills. Triplett stated that, after the burglary, she encountered Woods in front of a store. According to Triplett, Woods attempted to sell Triplett her own stolen property. Triplett stated that Woods also asked for some pills during the encounter. However, Triplett testified that she told Woods she did not have any pills, and she again testified that she never sold pills to Woods at any time.

         ¶5. Investigator Sciple with the Neshoba County Sheriff's Department next testified that he investigated the reported burglary at Triplett's home. Investigator Sciple stated that he received a phone call about the burglary on April 28, 2014, which was the same day that a tornado went through Louisville, Mississippi. In response to the reported burglary, a deputy was immediately dispatched to Triplett's home. Investigator Sciple testified that the deputy observed blood in Triplett's home, and the deputy collected a piece of cardboard from the home that had blood on it. Investigator Sciple further stated that, instead of personally going to Triplett's home, he stayed in Louisville to help with the tornado damage because Triplett initially reported that nothing had been stolen.

         ¶6. Investigator Sciple testified that Triplett again contacted law enforcement on May 3, 2014, to report that several items had in fact been stolen. A deputy returned to Triplett's home, and during the visit, the deputy observed blood on a vase Triplett owned. Based on Triplett's statement to law enforcement, Investigator Sciple believed that the blood on the vase must have come from the person who burglarized the home. As a result, Investigator Sciple instructed the deputy to collect the vase from Triplett's home. Once he had the vase at his office, Investigator Sciple photographed the vase and collected samples of the blood on the vase. After later learning that Woods and her boyfriend, Goodin, were suspects in the burglary, Investigator Sciple testified that he obtained permission to collect DNA swabs from both Woods and Goodin. Investigator Sciple testified that he sent both the DNA samples and the blood swabs to the Mississippi Crime Laboratory for analysis. Although he did not reveal the results, Investigator Sciple confirmed that he received a report back from the Mississippi Crime Laboratory with the requested analysis.

         ¶7. On May 20, 2014, Investigator Sciple questioned Woods about the burglary of Triplett's home. Investigator Sciple stated that the questioning took place in his office at the sheriff's department and that he and Woods were the only two present during the interview. During a suppression hearing conducted outside the jury's presence, the State proffered Investigator Sciple's testimony to show that Woods's statement to Investigator Sciple was made voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently. After hearing the proffered testimony, the circuit court determined that Investigator Sciple properly informed Woods of her rights and that Woods voluntarily waived them and made a statement to Investigator ...


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