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Vale v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

August 29, 2017

SHALONDA NIKKIA VALE A/K/A SHALONDA N. VALE A/K/A SHALONDA VALE A/K/A SHALONDRA NIKKIA VALE A/K/A SHALONDRA VALE APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/27/2016

         JONES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. DAL WILLIAMSON TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: JUSTIN TAYLOR COOK

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: ABBIE EASON KOONCE

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: ANTHONY J. BUCKLEY

         EN BANC.

          WESTBROOKS, J.

         ¶1. Shalonda Vale and Kawaskei Bender[1] were charged as codefendants with burglary of a dwelling. After Vale's jury trial in the Circuit Court of Jones County, she was sentenced to twenty-one years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), with seventeen years to serve, and the remaining four years suspended for postrelease supervision (PRS). Vale filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, in the alternative, a new trial, which was denied. Vale appeals, raising two issues:

I. Whether the indictment was fatally defective; and

II. Whether the indictment was constructively amended by jury instruction S-1.

         After review of the record, we find Vale's indictment neglected to allege an essential element of the crime of burglary of a dwelling under Mississippi law. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the circuit court and render a dismissal of the indictment.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. After arriving home from work, Carolyn Mulloy observed dust by her apartment door. Inside her apartment, Mulloy noticed a white envelope of coins and other valuables were missing. Mulloy filed a police report with the Laurel Police Department, and an officer advised her to check the local pawn shops to see if any of the shops were in possession of her missing items.

         ¶3. An employee at "The Gold Shop" notified Mulloy that a bag of jewelry and several other items had been sold to the shop. Mulloy testified the shop had several items of jewelry she did not even realize were missing. These items included a wedding-ring set, earrings, and various gold rings. The shop employee also noted that a high-school class ring and a University of Massachusetts class ring had already been sent to be melted down. The Gold Shop provided Mulloy with the names of two individuals responsible for selling the jewelry. Mulloy recognized the names of Vale and Bender, because the individuals lived together above her in the same apartment complex.

         ¶4. Mulloy submitted both Vale and Bender's names to Brandon Evans, an investigator with the Laurel Police Department. Shortly thereafter, Vale was arrested at her home. After waiving her right to an attorney, Vale confessed on videotape to burglarizing Mulloy's apartment. Vale confessed that she broke the lock on Mulloy's apartment door with a fingernail file and took the jewelry from Mulloy's night stand. Vale also confessed that she took coins in a white envelope from Mulloy's apartment. Vale told Detective Evans where all the items were located in Mulloy's home at the time she broke in, and that Bender was not with her during the time of the burglary.

         ¶5. However, at trial, she vehemently denied burglarizing Mulloy's home. Vale testified she confessed to the burglary because Bender stated he could not "take another charge." She testified Bender gave her the items of jewelry and said they belonged to his grandmother. Vale stated she took the jewelry to The Gold Shop, along with Bender's identification, and sold the items for cash.

         ¶6. Also at trial, Bender testified he broke into Mulloy's apartment alone, gave the stolen items to Vale, and asked her to find out whether the jewelry was real to possibly sell for cash. Bender stated he told Vale the jewelry belonged to his grandmother. Bender testified that Vale likely made up the story about her burglarizing Mulloy's apartment, because he would face life in jail for a conviction of burglary.[2]

         ¶7. A jury found Vale guilty of burglary of a dwelling. She was sentenced to twenty-one years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with seventeen years to serve, and with four years suspended, based upon the successful completion of four years of PRS. Vale filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, in the alternative, a new trial. The motion was denied. Vale timely appeals.

         STANDARD ...


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