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Rasheed v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

August 1, 2017

AKEEM RASHEED A/K/A AKEEM MUWAKKIL RASHEED A/K/A AKEEM ABDULLAH RASHEED A/K/A LEE MORRIS SHARP A/K/A LAMAR SHARP APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/20/2016

         OKTIBBEHA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. LEE J. HOWARD TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: W. DANIEL HINCHCLIFF

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: BARBARA WAKELAND BYRD

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: SCOTT WINSTON COLOM

          BEFORE IRVING, P.J., FAIR AND WILSON, JJ.

          WILSON, J.

         ¶1. Following a jury trial in the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court, Akeem Rasheed was convicted of aggravated assault and burglary of a dwelling based on evidence that he kicked down the door of Renee Childs's apartment in Starkville and stabbed Michael Randle in the back with a knife. Rasheed and Childs had been in a romantic relationship, while Randle was the father of Childs's daughter. A short time after Randle was stabbed, Rasheed was arrested a few blocks from the apartment carrying a knife. At trial, the jury heard testimony from Randle, Childs, and Rasheed, as well as 911 calls placed by Randle and Childs and other evidence. Following his conviction, Rasheed was sentenced as a habitual offender to two concurrent terms of life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections without eligibility for parole or probation.

         ¶2. On appeal, Rasheed's appointed counsel argues that the trial judge abused his discretion by refusing Rasheed's requested jury instructions on self-defense. However, because Rasheed testified at trial and denied that he stabbed Randle, and because the evidence did not support a self-defense claim, the trial judge did not abuse his discretion by declining to instruct the jury on self-defense. Rasheed's appointed counsel also argues that Rasheed was denied a fair trial as a result of various allegedly prejudicial comments by the prosecutors during voir dire and closing argument. However, Rasheed did not object to any of these comments, most if not all of the comments were entirely proper and innocuous, and none of the comments were so inflammatory or prejudicial as to require a new trial. Finally, in a pro se supplemental brief, Rasheed alleges a series of additional errors. However, most of the issues raised in Rasheed's pro se brief are procedurally barred because they were not raised in the trial court, and all are without merit. Accordingly, for the reasons discussed in more detail below, we affirm Rasheed's convictions and sentences.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶3. Around 9 p.m. on July 29, 2014, Randle was visiting Childs and their five-year-old daughter at Childs's apartment in Starkville. Rasheed knocked on the door and identified himself to Childs. Without opening the door, Childs asked Rasheed to leave, and he did.

         ¶4. Rasheed and Childs had been in a romantic relationship. Although Rasheed believed that the relationship was "exclusive, " Childs testified that it was not. Childs testified that Rasheed had called her earlier that day, and she had asked him not to come to her apartment because Randle would be there to visit. Randle and Rasheed did not know one another.

         ¶5. Rasheed returned to the apartment ten to twenty minutes later and kicked in the door. Rasheed then entered the apartment and attacked Randle. Childs ran from the apartment and went to a neighbor's apartment to call 911. After a short struggle with Randle, Rasheed pulled a knife from his back pocket and stabbed Randle in the back. Rasheed then fled, and Randle called 911.

         ¶6. Recordings of the 911 calls from Childs and Randle were admitted into evidence at trial. Childs told the dispatcher that Akeem Abdullah[1] had broken into her apartment and "had a knife." Randle told the dispatcher that a black man in a red shirt had stabbed him in the back with a knife and then fled.

         ¶7. Officers from the Starkville Police Department responded to Childs's apartment. Childs and Randle told the officers that Rasheed had stabbed Randle and then fled wearing a red shirt. Randle showed the officers the stab wound to his back. Officers also observed that the apartment door had been knocked off its hinges from the outside into the apartment.

         ¶8. Officers arrested Rasheed on Jackson Street a few blocks from Childs's apartment. Rasheed was wearing a brown shirt, but he was carrying a plastic bag with a red shirt in it. After the officers returned to the police station, they also found a filet knife with a seven-inch blade in the bag. No blood was apparent on the knife or the shirt. At the time of his arrest, Rasheed denied that he knew Childs. At the police station, Rasheed signed a waiver of his Miranda[2] rights and gave a recorded statement to Detective Stephanie Perkins.

         ¶9. An Oktibbeha County grand jury indicted Rasheed for aggravated assault and burglary of a dwelling. The indictment was later amended to charge Rasheed as a habitual offender under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-83 (Rev. 2015). The case proceeded to a jury trial on April 19, 2016.

         ¶10. At trial, Rasheed testified that when he first went to Childs's apartment, she asked him to leave and come back later. Rasheed claimed that when he returned thirty or forty-five minutes later, he knocked on the door, and Childs invited him into the apartment.[3] He testified that Randle then became angry and attacked him. Rasheed claimed that as he and Randle were "tussling" in the kitchen, Randle picked up a knife and attempted to stab him, but he was able to wrestle the knife away from Randle. Rasheed then testified that, after he took the knife from Randle, "I just -- I laid the knife on the table, and I just backed on out of the door." Rasheed clearly and repeatedly denied that he ever stabbed Randle during the altercation. Rasheed claimed that the knife that the police later discovered in his plastic bag was a different knife. Rasheed also claimed that he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol during his post-arrest interview with Detective Perkins.

         ¶11. After Rasheed testified, the State called Detective Perkins as a rebuttal witness, and a video of her interview of Rasheed was admitted into evidence. In the interview, Rasheed told Perkins that he went to Childs's apartment that evening, but Childs told him that "she had company, " so he left. Rasheed said that he went to his aunt's apartment across the street but returned to Childs's apartment when she called and told him that she needed to talk to him. Rasheed said that when he returned to Childs's apartment, he and Randle tussled, Randle pulled out a knife, and he took the knife from Randle. Perkins then asked whether he stabbed Randle with the knife. At one point, Rasheed answered, "apparently." Rasheed later said that he did not remember stabbing Randle but that it "was possible" "because it happened so fast." Rasheed said that whatever had occurred was "not intentional" and that ...


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