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Lenoir v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi

March 2, 2017

LATERRENCE LENOIR a/k/a LATERRENCE A. LENOIR a/k/a LATERRENCE AWSON LENOIR
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/14/2016

         COPIAH COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LAMAR PICKARD

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: RENEE H. BERRY ALEXANDER C. MARTIN.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF THE STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: W. DANIEL HINCHCLIFF GEORGE T. HOLMES RENEE H. BERRY.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: KAYLYN McCLINTON.

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: ALEXANDER C. MARTIN.

          BEFORE WALLER, C.J., COLEMAN AND CHAMBERLIN, JJ.

          CHAMBERLIN, JUSTICE.

         ¶1. A Copiah County jury convicted Laterrence Lenoir of two counts of armed robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.[1] Lenoir appeals his convictions, arguing the jury had insufficient evidence to determine that he committed the crime or, alternatively, that his motion for a new trial should have been granted. We disagree and affirm his convictions.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURE

         ¶2. This case concerns the events that occurred on September 6, 2012, at a Dollar General store in Wesson, Mississippi. At approximately 10 p.m., three employees of the Dollar General store-Dawn Forrest, Jeffrey Thomas, and Vinshaun Motley-prepared to close the store for the night. Forrest worked on the deposit in the store's office, Thomas used the restroom, and Motley gathered the store's buggies in the parking lot. At this time, two men entered the store and robbed[2] the employees at gunpoint. The men's faces were partially covered and each wore gloves. The men stole approximately $3, 600, the store telephone, and the cell phone of each employee.

         ¶3. More than three years later, on January 27, 2016, a Copiah County grand jury indicted Laterrence Lenoir on three counts of armed robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit an armed robbery in connection with the events at the Dollar General store.[3] Lenoir was appointed counsel and he pleaded not guilty. On March 14, 2016, a jury trial commenced in the circuit court. The State's case against Lenoir consisted of testimony from the three Dollar General employees-one of whom testified in exchange for a plea deal[4]-and surveillance footage of the robbery from the store's security system. The following is the evidence admitted against Lenoir during trial.

         Dawn Forrest

         ¶4. The State first called Forrest, a part-time manager of the Dollar General Store at the time of the robbery. Forrest testified that she knew Lenoir because Lenoir's girlfriend also worked at the same Dollar General store. Forrest stated that Lenoir generally would go to the store twice a day-once to drop his girlfriend off at work and once to pick her up at the end of her shift.

         ¶5. Forest testified that she was working on the deposit in the store's office on the night of the robbery. At that time, two men, one wielding a gun, came into the store. Forrest described one of the robbers as taller than the other. The taller robber had the gun and wore a dark-colored, hooded sweatshirt with shorts. Forrest stated that the other robber wore a scarf across his face and had red-tipped, shoulder-length dreadlocks.

         ¶6. After the robbers entered the store, Forrest recalled that one of the men said, "Give us the money." At first, Forrest thought two kids were playing a joke, but she later became afraid after the taller man with the gun pointed the weapon at Thomas as he exited the restroom. Now afraid, Forrest stated that she was going to do "whatever they asked me to do." Forrest then gave the men the money from the cash registers and the safe in the front of the store.

         ¶7. After giving the men the money, Forrest believed the men would leave; however, the men then demanded the money from the office in the back of the store. Forrest testified that the men "should not have known" about the money in the back. Forrest then led the men to the back of the store, accessible only through the employee break room, and gave the men the money from the office. She also testified that the men took each of the employees' cell phones and the store phone.

         ¶8. At this point during Forrest's testimony, the State played video-surveillance footage of the robbery. The footage tracks Forrest's testimony. The video surveillance has no audio of what was said during the commission of the robbery, but it shows two men, one wielding a handgun, holding up the employees and demanding money from the registers. The video also shows Forrest leading the men to the back of the store. At the conclusion of Forrest's testimony, the trial judge admitted Forrest's recovered cell phone into evidence.

         ¶9. On cross-examination, Forrest admitted that she could not identify Lenoir as one of the robbers. Forrest claimed she could not see the men's faces at the time of the robbery, and no ...


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