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Love v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

July 18, 2017

GERRY LOVE APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/03/2015

         BOLIVAR COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. ALBERT B. SMITH III JUDGE SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: GEORGE T. HOLMES

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: ALICIA MARIE AINSWORTH

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: BRENDA FAY MITCHELL

          BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES, FAIR AND WILSON, JJ.

          BARNES, J.

         ¶1. A Boliver County jury convicted Gerry Love of the first-degree murder of Glandra Williams under Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-3-19(1)(a) (Rev. 2014). Love was sentenced to life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) as a habitual offender under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-81 (Rev. 2015) without the possibility for parole or probation. On appeal, Love argues that the trial court erred in sustaining the State's Batson[1] objection during jury selection, and that he was prejudiced by the admission of hearsay testimony from a State's witness. Finding no error, we affirm.

         STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. On the afternoon of November 12, 2014, Kimberly Williams discovered the body of her forty-four-year-old mother, Glandra Williams, lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor of Glandra's home in Cleveland, Mississippi. Glandra had suffered a total of thirty-two stab wounds to her neck, chest, abdomen, and left hand. Additionally, her throat was slashed, severing the carotid and jugular blood vessels, exposing her larynx and voice box. Rigor mortis had set in, and one arm was bent with her hand raised up, as if in defense from her attacker.

         ¶3. The night before, as was their routine, Glandra kept Kimberly's two small children, because Kimberly worked the night shift at MDOC from midnight until 8 a.m. Usually, Kimberly would drop her children off at Glandra's home at approximately 11 p.m. In the morning, Glandra would put the children on the school bus. In the afternoon, Kimberly would pick her children up from school and return them to Glandra's house. Usually, Kimberly and her mother talked "all day, every day."

         ¶4. The morning of the twelfth, however, instead of going to her mother's house in the afternoon, Kimberly was tired and fell asleep. When she awoke, she realized she had not heard from her mother all day; so Kimberly went to Glandra's house. Upon entering, she went to answer Glandra's mobile telephone, which was ringing in the bedroom. In the meantime, Kimberly's five-year-old daughter had gone into the kitchen and found Glandra's body. She told Kimberly, "Mama, Grandma is [lying] on the floor with blood all over her." Kimberly called 911.

         ¶5. When Investigator Ray Morris arrived at the murder scene, he found Glandra lying on her back in a large pool of blood by the utility area in the kitchen. He saw multiple stab wounds to her torso and neck. Her body had already stiffened, and her eyes were locked open, dried, and glazed. Morris noted the blood smears and splatters in the area indicating a struggle. Glandra's wallet was on the sofa in another room with blood on it. There were some towels on the sofa in a pile of laundry with blood on them. Two knives were found in the kitchen sink covered in dish water with a strong smell of bleach; one of the knives had a distinct bend in the blade. The knives were collected as evidence.

         ¶6. Glandra's next-door neighbor was Desirae Mason. Gerry Love lived next to Mason's house with his mother. Unbeknownst to her neighbors, Mason had four security cameras installed outside her home. One camera was positioned on the right side of her house with a full view of Glandra's house, including the side door and driveway. After learning of Glandra's murder, that evening Mason reviewed the security-video footage. Mason testified she saw the following on the video. At 8:04 a.m., Glandra's two grandchildren ran out to the school bus. Then, at 8:10 a.m., Love came across the side of her house, walked around the back of Glandra's vehicle, and then walked in the direction of Glandra's front door. From other video footage taken from a camera positioned on the back side of Mason's house, Mason testified she saw Love "come out through the back and come through [Mason's] garage, and across to his mother's yard." Mason was able to zoom in on the individual and claimed the person was Love. Mason knew Love well, as they had been neighbors for five years and worked together "off and on" for two years. Mason did not see anyone else in the videos walking near Glandra's house. Mason called law enforcement and showed them the video footage.

         ¶7. Mason's best friend, Angela Castion, also knew Love because they worked together at McDonald's. The evening of November 12, Love arrived to start his shift as Castion was leaving her shift. She noticed fresh scratches under Love's eye and jokingly asked if he had been in a fight. Love responded that his cousin had scratched him.

         ¶8. Later that evening, Mason called Castion to come to her house and watch the video footage with law enforcement. Castion identified Love as the individual in the video because of his height and the way he walked. Castion testified that Love had a "swag leg" and a "gap walk" that was distinctive, and he was frequently teased about it. The video was paused and zoomed to aid her identification. Investigator Morris was present and testified both Mason and Castion identified Love. Castion told Morris she had just seen Love at work and noticed a scratch under his eye.

         ¶9. At approximately 10 p.m. that night, investigators went to question Love at McDonald's, and he was taken into custody. Love's clothing was collected. Investigator Morris noticed what appeared to be blood on his work pants, the scratch under his eye, and a fresh cut on his hand.

         ¶10. Tommie Richardson was one of Glandra's friends, and they spoke on the telephone every morning. He testified that Glandra was in a relationship with someone who lived down the street, but Richardson did not know his name. The morning Glandra was murdered, Richardson called her at approximately 7 a.m. Richardson testified that he asked her: "'You got company?' She said 'Yes.' I said, 'Greenville?' She said, 'No.' I said, 'Indianola?' She said, 'No.' I said, 'Down the street?' She said, 'Yes.'" The State then asked him: "Had she, prior to this conversation, talked to you about someone down the street that she had been talking to?" Defense counsel objected to this question on the grounds of hearsay, and the trial court later sustained the objection.

         ¶11. At trial, a serologist from the Mississippi Crime Lab testified the knives tested negative for blood; however, Love's pants tested positive for blood. A blood sample from the pants was submitted for DNA testing. A DNA expert testified that Glandra could not be excluded as a possible DNA donor from the sample. Further, for the markers tested, "the genetic profile for the DNA donor of the stain on the outside front of the pants occurred with the frequency of approximately one in greater than 10 billion."

         ¶12. A rape kit was also submitted to the crime lab for testing with vaginal swabs from Glendra and her underwear. Both the vaginal swabs and underwear tested positive for semen. The DNA analysis of the vaginal swabs had a mixture of Glandra's DNA and an unknown male. Love was excluded as a contributor.

         ANALYSIS

         I.Batson ...


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