RODNEY CARTER A/K/A RODNEY D. CARTER APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 11/30/2015
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. WILLIAM E. CHAPMAN III
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
BENJAMIN ALLEN SUBER
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
JASON L. DAVIS
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: MICHAEL GUEST
LEE, C.J., BARNES AND CARLTON, JJ.
At approximately 11 p.m. on January 10, 2015, Madison County
Sheriff's Deputy Sam Howard observed a car that did not
have a light illuminating its license plate. The car and the
deputy's vehicle were both traveling west on Highway 463
in Madison but were in different lanes when they came to a
stop at a red light. Once the light turned green, Deputy
Howard accelerated slowly in order to get a better look at
the car's license plate, but the driver, Rodney Carter,
slowed the car to a near stop, obstructing traffic behind
him. Because of this suspicious behavior, Deputy Howard
followed Carter as he entered the exit ramp for Interstate 55
southbound and activated his blue lights and siren. Carter
initially applied his brakes, as if to stop, but then he
accelerated, speeding away from the deputy's car. Deputy
Howard notified his dispatcher that he was engaged in
pursuit. During the pursuit, Carter maintained speeds between
88-124 miles per hour (mph), well over the posted speed
limit. He was weaving in and out of traffic and occasionally
driving on the shoulder of the road. When Carter reached the
intersection of Interstate 220 and Highway 49, he continued
speeding north on Highway 49. After a few miles, Trooper Wade
Zimmerman of the Mississippi Highway Patrol put out spike
strips to stop Carter's vehicle, and the car came to a
slow stop. Before Carter stopped, Deputy Howard observed an
object being thrown from the passenger side of the car,
causing a spark.
Carter was agitated, telling law enforcement he had just
picked up his wife from work and was on his way to the
hospital because he was having a severe asthma attack. Deputy
Howard later testified that Carter informed him he was having
trouble breathing; so Deputy Howard advised Carter to sit up
and quit yelling so he could "relax and breathe easier,
" but Carter "insisted on trying to slump over . .
. and continued yelling that [he] could not breathe."
Carter was examined at the scene by emergency medical
personnel, and then was arrested and taken into custody. A
gun was recovered near the scene the following day.
Carter was indicted for felony evasion and possession of a
firearm by a felon. A trial was held on October 28, 2015.
Upset with his appointed counsel's legal advice, Carter
insisted on self-representation, but the judge ordered
appointed counsel to remain and assist Carter if needed.
Carter was convicted of Count One, felony evasion; he was
acquitted of Count Two, possession of a firearm by a felon.
He was sentenced to five years in the custody of the
Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC).
Carter filed a motion for a new trial or, in the alternative,
a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, claiming the verdict
was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. The
trial court denied the motion, and he now
appeals. An appellant's brief was filed on
Carter's behalf by the Office of the State Public
Defender, but Carter has also filed a supplemental pro se
brief, raising additional issues, as well as a pro se reply
brief. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment.
Whether the verdict was against the overwhelming
weight of the evidence.
Carter argues the trial court erred in denying his motion for
a new trial, claiming that the evidence did not show that he
was operating a vehicle in a reckless manner with
indifference to human life. Carter insists that he was merely
trying to get to the nearest hospital due to a medical
emergency, and he thought the deputy was escorting him. He
also argues the State failed to produce any evidence that he
was not in need of medical attention when he was arrested.
In reviewing a trial court's denial of a motion for a new
trial, we "will only disturb a verdict when it is so
contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence that to
allow it to stand would sanction an unconscionable
injustice." Bush v. State,895 So.2d 836, 844
(¶18) (Miss. 2005). Evidence is weighed in the light
most favorable to the verdict. Id. Carter was