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Reynolds v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

September 19, 2017


          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/05/2016






          WILSON, J.

         ¶1. Armed with a gun and a baseball bat, Jacob Reynolds and an accomplice robbed the Dollar General on Highway 45 in the unincorporated community of Lauderdale. Jacob was indicted on two counts of armed robbery-one count for each of the two employees present in the store during the robbery-and for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. A Lauderdale County jury found Jacob guilty of both counts of armed robbery but not guilty of the felon-in-possession charge. The circuit court sentenced Jacob to two concurrent terms of thirty-one years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

         ¶2. On appeal, Jacob argues that (1) he is entitled to a new trial under the doctrine of "retroactive misjoinder" because he was unfairly prejudiced by evidence introduced on the felon-in-possession charge; (2) there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction on the second count of armed robbery because he did not take any property from the "person or presence" of the victim, an employee who fled to a stockroom at the outset of the robbery; and (3) his conviction on two counts of armed robbery for taking the same money violates the state and federal constitutional protections against double jeopardy. We conclude that these arguments are without merit and therefore affirm.


         ¶3. Jacob lived with his younger brother, Jason Reynolds, in an RV at a trailer park in Lauderdale County. On September 11, 2014, Jacob, Jason, and their friend Jarred Baysinger were at the RV trying to come up with a way to get money fast. Jarred's girlfriend, Claire Parker, was "begging" Jarred and Jacob to go to Disney World the next day with her family. But Jarred and Jacob did not have enough money for the trip.

         ¶4. Jason testified that they eventually decided to rob the Dollar General on Highway 45 in Lauderdale. Jason previously worked at the store. According to Jason, his role was to enter the store, see how many people were there, and then tell Jacob and Jarred whether to go ahead with the robbery. They planned to rob the store shortly before it closed at 10 p.m.

         ¶5. Jason entered the Dollar General around 9:30 p.m. and bought a Black & Mild cigar. He used a lot of pennies to pay for the cigar, and the cashier, Audria Brown, thought that he seemed to be "stalling." Audria recognized Jason as having worked at the store, although they never worked there at the same time. After Jason made his purchase and left, Audria noticed that a group of five to ten young men were milling around outside of the store.

          ¶6. Jason testified that after he left the store he called Jacob or Jarred to let them know how many people were inside. Audria testified that about twenty-five to thirty minutes after Jason left, while she was preparing for a sale the next day, she looked up and noticed that a man was waiting at her register. Audria was about to return to her register when she saw that the man was "ducking like he was scared." When she turned around, she saw two men coming in the front door and "rushing" toward the store's office. The first man was wearing a mask and carrying "something black." Audria thought that the black object was a shotgun because of how the man was holding it and because she thought that she heard something "click." Audria did not see or recall much about the second man. She was worried because she knew that the other employee in the store, Lakisha Matthews, was in the office counting down her register. Audria immediately ran to a stockroom in the back of the store. She hid there until Lakisha came and found her after the robbery was over.

         ¶7. Marcus Moore was shopping at the Dollar General when the robbers entered. Marcus testified that both men were wearing masks, that one man was carrying a handgun, and that the second man was carrying what appeared to be a shotgun. Marcus later learned that the second man was actually carrying a baseball bat, but he thought that it was a shotgun because of the way the man was holding it up, almost at shoulder level. Marcus "hesitated for a minute" and then "ran out of the store." The man with the baseball bat chased after him but then returned to the store.

         ¶8. Alisha Harris and her daughter Niah were also in the Dollar General at the time of the robbery. Both heard a man say "give me the money, " and Niah saw a man in a mask. They then hid in the stockroom with Audria until the robbery was over.

         ¶9. Lakisha was counting the money from her register when the two men "rushed" into the office. One of the men put a gun to her head and ordered her to give him the money that she was counting, which she did. The man then told her "to go to the safe and get the money out of the safe." The safe was at the front of the store near the cash registers. Lakisha went to the safe, which was unlocked, and gave the man the money that was inside of it.

         ¶10. Lakisha explained that cash drops from each register were made to the safe throughout the day and at the end of the day just before closing. Lakisha testified that the safe took about ten minutes to open, so employees sometimes left the safe cracked open while counting down their registers at closing time.

         ¶11. After the men left, Lakisha found Audria and the Harrises in the stockroom. Lakisha testified that approximately $150 was stolen from her register. On the night of the robbery, she provided law enforcement with an estimate of how much had been stolen from the safe, but at trial she could not recall what she told them.

         ¶12. Jason testified that he returned to the RV after he left the Dollar General. About thirty minutes or an hour later, Jacob, Jarred, and Claire all arrived in Claire's car. Jason denied that anyone ever discussed the robbery. He also denied that he ever saw Jacob with a large amount of cash. However, Jason admitted that nobody had any money beforehand, but after Jacob and Jarred returned to the RV, they suddenly ...

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