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Brown v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

July 18, 2017

HENRY ORLANDO BROWN A/K/A HENRY O. BROWN A/K/A HENRY BROWN APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/11/2015

         SCOTT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. MARCUS D. GORDON JUDGE

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: EDMUND J. PHILLIPS JR. CHRISTOPHER A. COLLINS

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: BILLY L. GORE

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: STEVEN SIMEON KILGORE

          BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., CARLTON AND GREENLEE, JJ.

          GREENLEE, J.

         ¶1. Henry Orlando Brown appeals his convictions and sentences for burglary, larceny, and felony malicious mischief. Brown argues, inter alia, that his indictment was impermissibly multiplicitous, that his confession was involuntarily given, and that the trial court erroneously ruled on multiple hearsay objections. Brown, through his pro se supplemental brief, also raises issues involving the convicting statute, his sentencing, his indictment, and other claims. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS BELOW

         ¶2. In April 2014, Brown was indicted on four counts in the same indictment, including one count of burglary of a camp house, two counts of grand larceny (for the theft of two four-wheelers), and one count of felony malicious mischief (for damage to multiple four-wheelers). Two additional defendants-Oshee Moore and Bridget Harris-were charged in the same indictment. Harris is Brown's daughter. Brown went before a justice-court judge and was denied bond shortly after his arrest.

         ¶3. Following his arrest, Brown was interviewed several times by Scott County investigators Willie Anderson and Billy Patrick over the course of several months. Brown sent multiple handwritten notes to the investigators asserting Moore's participation in the crime and expressing an interest in receiving a bond setting. At Brown's fourth interview, after waiving his Miranda[1] rights, Brown provided a four-page handwritten statement asserting that he never entered onto the victim's property but that Harris and Moore had called him asking to store the four-wheelers and other items at his mother's house and asking for help selling the stolen items.

         ¶4. Both Harris and Moore entered into plea deals in exchange for testifying against Brown.[2] Harris testified that Brown picked the camp-house location to burglarize and that Brown and Moore each rode one of the stolen four-wheelers (loaded with additional stolen items) off of the property while she drove the vehicle in which they had arrived. She testified that they took the four-wheelers and hid them at Brown's mother's house prior to selling them. She testified that, when they were being investigated for the crime, her father told her to tell the police that Moore did it. She stated that, after her father implicated her as well as Moore to the police, she decided to tell the truth about the involvement of all three. She stated that all three of them were high on meth at the time of the crime and that she initially thought they were only looking for scrap metal.

         ¶5. Moore also testified against Brown. He stated that, after they entered the property, he hot-wired the four-wheelers while Brown searched other buildings and returned with various bags and a generator. Several victims testified as to the value of the items stolen and the cost of having damaged items repaired. A local dealer and mechanic specializing in small-engine sales and repairs also testified as to the value of the four-wheelers and the cost to repair them.

         ¶6. Brown moved to suppress his inculpatory written and oral statements, arguing that the interrogating officers made a promise that he would receive a bond setting if he confessed. The court held a suppression hearing outside of the presence of the jury in which it heard the testimony of the two investigating officers. Brown did not testify. The officers testified that Brown expressed an interest in receiving bond, but that they never offered Brown the promise of bond in return for a statement. They testified that Brown was properly Mirandized prior to talking with them, and that they refused to look at his written statement prior to the Miranda waiver. Brown's written Miranda waiver was introduced into evidence. The officers testified that Brown had a four-page handwritten statement prepared (in which he denied being present for the actual burglary), and that he had unilaterally sent letters to the officers requesting to meet with them.

         ¶7. Officer Anderson testified that over the course of the approximately thirty-minute interview, he asked Brown about the discrepancies between his written statement and other evidence the police had collected. He stated, "I asked [Brown] specifically did he break into the facilities with Mr. [Moore] and Ms. Bridget. He held his head down and he said yes. I said, did you take the four-wheelers there? He stated, yes, he did." Following the court's denial of Brown's motion to suppress, Officer Anderson read Brown's written statement out loud to the jury and testified as to Brown's oral inculpatory statements.

         ¶8. Officer Anderson also testified that, during the course of the investigation, Harris granted consent for law enforcement to look around her grandmother's property. He testified that he found some four-wheeler racks and that "Ms. [Harris] told us those four-wheeler racks belonged to the missing four-wheelers." Brown objected to the testimony as hearsay. The court replied, "I'm going to let you ask it in a different way. The objection is overruled." Brown then moved for a mistrial, which was denied. The State redirected its questioning to the course of the investigation.

         ¶9. Brown presented one witness, Christopher Long, who was originally a suspect in the case. Long testified in part that when he was taken in for questioning, Harris shouted at him from down the hall: "[T]ell him him and Brown did it." The State objected to Long's statement as hearsay and the court sustained the objection, instructing the jury to ignore it.

         ¶10. Brown was convicted on all four counts and sentenced as a habitual offender to seven years for the burglary, ten years for each count of larceny, and five years for malicious mischief, with all four sentences to ...


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