OF JUDGMENT: 07/10/2015
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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