AARON LYONS A/K/A AARON LADANIEL LYONS A/K/A ARRON L. LYONS A/K/A AARON DANIEL LYONS, APPELLANT,
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 06/08/2015.
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. DAVID H. STRONG JR. TRIAL JUDGE.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
GEORGE T. HOLMES.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
KAYLYN HAVRILLA MCCLINTON
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: DEE BATES.
Aaron Lyons was convicted of one count of manslaughter in
violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-3-25 (Rev.
2014) and one count of armed robbery in violation of
Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-3-79 (Rev. 2014). Lyons
appeals his conviction. This Court finds no error and
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Around 4:45 a.m. on January 16, 2004, a customer discovered
the lifeless body of John Deere outside of the Pik & Pak
convenience store, which Deere owned, in Brookhaven,
Mississippi. Deere was robbed at gunpoint and shot three
times. Shortly after Deere's body was discovered, a
volunteer firefighter from the Summit Fire Department
responded to a small roadside grassfire. The fireman
discovered various items alongside the road, including a
small metal cash box where the fire originated.
Lincoln County investigators soon arrived on the scene to
inspect the area and seize evidence. Deere's widow later
identified the cash box as belonging to her deceased husband.
Investigators also collected DNA samples from the items found
near the fire, but the DNA did not match any known person.
In 2013, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department received
a DNA sample belonging to Lyons. Lyons's DNA profile
matched a sample recovered from a pair of black FUBU jeans
discovered at the scene of the fire. Investigators then
determined that Lyons lived in Brookhaven at the time of the
crime with his then girlfriend, Lavatrus Harris. On September
3, 2014, Lyons was indicted in the Circuit Court of Lincoln
County on charges of murder, armed robbery, and conspiracy to
commit armed robbery.
At trial, Sonya Ewell testified that at some point early in
their relationship, Lyons told her of the robbery and murder
that he and Harris committed together in Brookhaven in 2004.
Ewell testified that on a trip in December 2011 from Humble,
Texas, to Brookhaven to visit family, Lyons drove her and his
cousin past the scene of the crime and gestured at the gas
station and stated, "that's where it happened."
Lyons sought to exclude Ewell's testimony by claiming
Ewell was his common-law wife, and the spousal privilege
precluded her testimony. Lyons also argued that Ewell was not
a competent witness and was allowed to testify in violation
of Mississippi Rule of Evidence 601. The trial court ruled
that Lyons's admission to Ewell occurred before they
allegedly entered into a common-law marriage, which meant the
privilege did not apply, and the presence of Lyons's
cousin in the vehicle removed the conversation from privilege
even if Lyons could invoke the spousal privilege.
After a jury trial from June 2 through June 4, 2015, a jury
convicted Lyons of manslaughter and armed robbery. On June
11, 2015, Lyons filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding
the verdict (JNOV) or, in the alternative, a new trial. On
June 18, 2015, the trial court denied the motion. Lyons now
Lyons argues on appeal, through his appellant's brief and
supplemental brief, that: (1) the trial court erred in
allowing Lyons's alleged former common-law wife to
testify in violation of Mississippi Rules of Evidence 504 and
601(a); (2) the verdicts were contrary to the weight of the
evidence; (3) the State violated Lyons's right to due
process by not disclosing a copy of the official paperwork
from the DNA test results on the purple cloth; (4) the State
created a materially false impression of the evidence; (5)
his right to a fair trial was violated when a State's
witness used a cell phone while on the stand; (6) his right
to a fair trial was violated when the trial court allowed a
picture of the victim to remain displayed to the jury during
closing arguments; (7) the trial court erred in failing to
grant a mistrial; (8) he received ineffective assistance of
counsel; (9) the trial court erred in denying jury
instruction D-10; and (10) cumulative error.
The trial court did not err in allowing Lyons's
alleged former common- law wife to testify.
Lyons first argues that Ewell's testimony was
inadmissible. Specifically, Lyons claims the court erred when
it found the spousal privilege in Mississippi Rule of
Evidence 504 did not preclude Ewell's testimony and that