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Johnson v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi

September 14, 2017

NICHOLAS JOHNSON a/k/a NICHOLAS EARL JOHNSON
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/11/2016

         PANOLA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. SMITH MURPHEY JUDGE

          ATTORNEYS: JAMES STEPHEN HALE, JR. DAVID L. WALKER JOHN W. CHAMPION

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: GRETA REGINA BALLARD

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, LAURA HOGAN TEDDER

          BEFORE DICKINSON, P.J., COLEMAN AND BEAM, JJ.

          DICKINSON, PRESIDING JUSTICE

         ¶1. Nicholas Johnson appeals his convictions of burglary and attempted armed robbery, claiming the State presented insufficient evidence to identify him as the perpetrator and that the jury found he was the perpetrator contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Because three witnesses identified Johnson with absolute certainty, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Around 1:30 a.m. on May 29, 2015, 72-year-old Betty Kate Lee was in her home on Hoskins Road in Batesville when she heard someone enter her house. Soon after she heard the noise, a man stood in front of her holding a knife. The man grabbed her pajama shirt and told her to turn over. She responded stating "You can't rape me. I'm on my period." The man then demanded money, and Lee offered four dollars she had in her drawer. He demanded more, but she told him it was all she had. Then, when Lee told the perpetrator that her grandson, Vernon, would kill him, the man fled the home apologizing and threatening to come back if Lee called the police.

         ¶3. Joel Johnson was visiting a different home on Hoskins Road that day. Between 1:30 and 2:00 a.m., Johnson was getting in his truck to leave when he saw a man walk out from behind Linda Dandridge's home, which sits immediately in front of Lee's home. Joel observed the man walk up the steps to Dandridge's front porch, but when the man saw Joel watching, he turned and left. Joel called out "Nick" to the man, and the man fled toward Nicholas Johnson's home further down the street.

         ¶4. Later, Tarance Winfield-Linda Dandridge's son-was standing outside his mother's home after police had responded. Nicholas Johnson came to Tarance and asked what was going on. Tarance responded that someone had been breaking into houses, and that his mother's security camera caught the man on tape. Nicholas was shocked when he heard about the camera and returned to his house.

         ¶5. On July 8, 2015, a grand jury indicted Nicholas Johnson on two counts of burglary, one count of attempted rape, and one count of attempted armed robbery. At trial, most of the testimony centered on the intruder's identity.

         ¶6. Lee never saw the man's face because it was covered with a bandana. But at trial, she described the intruder's appearance-a tall and skinny man wearing a blue bandana, blue clothes, black leather shoes, and a cap-and she ...


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