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Hall v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi

June 7, 2018

DERRICK RAMONE HALL a/k/a DERRICK HALL a/k/a DERRICK R. HALL
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/23/2017

          WARREN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. M. JAMES CHANEY, JR.

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: RICHARD EARL SMITH, JR. MARCIE TANNER SOUTHERLAND STEPHEN LEE McMILLIN KIMBERLY WALKER NAILOR MICHAEL ELIAS WINFIELD

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: GEORGE T. HOLMES

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE

          ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: ALICIA MARIE AINSWORTH

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: RICHARD EARL SMITH, JR.

          BEFORE RANDOLPH, P.J., KING AND ISHEE, JJ.

          ISHEE, JUSTICE.

         ¶1. In May 2017, Derrick Hall was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder in the Warren County Circuit Court. Due to his status as a habitual offender, Hall was sentenced to serve life in prison. Having his posttrial motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) denied by the circuit court, Hall now seeks relief from this Court. Finding no error, we affirm.

         STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. On the night of May 6, 2015, Kathryn Peacock was found dead in her home, the apparent victim of a gruesome murder. Peacock was nude and had suffered more than thirty stab wounds to her neck and throat, as well as defensive wounds to her arms and hands.

         ¶3. Peacock's body was discovered by her boyfriend at the time, Devonzell Morgan. Morgan had last seen Peacock the night before, May 5, 2015. He stated that he and Peacock had gone out for dinner, then returned to her home afterward. And around 5:30 p.m., Morgan left Peacock's home for the evening. He texted her "good night" later that night, to which Peacock responded "good night." The following morning, Morgan texted her "good morning, " to which she replied around 6:40 a.m.

         ¶4. When Morgan left work around 11:00 a.m., he texted Peacock several times but received no reply. Around 3:00 p.m., he again tried texting Peacock, to no avail. Morgan then called Peacock, but she did not answer or return any of his texts. Worried, Morgan and his brother, Matthew, drove to Peacock's home to check on her.

         ¶5. When they arrived, Morgan knocked on Peacock's door, but no one answered. He then knocked on her window with a broom and eventually went to check her door. Morgan claimed that Peacock had three locks on her door, which she always used-but when Morgan checked, the door was unlocked. Concerned, he entered Peacock's home and began looking for her. Morgan then discovered Peacock's nude body on her bathroom floor, with her lower half covered by bath drapes. Shocked, Morgan touched Peacock on the shoulder and said, "Kat." He then closed her eyes, and ran outside to alert Matthew. Once Morgan informed Matthew of his discovery, the two reentered Peacock's home-Matthew saw Peacock's body and immediately ran back outside. Morgan then used Peacock's phone to call 911.

         ¶6. Police arrived on scene and found a distraught Morgan sitting on the curb. Noticing no signs of forced entry, police then entered Peacock's home and noted blood in a variety of locations, including blood-transfer patterns throughout the kitchen, on the floor leading into Peacock's bedroom, and in the bathroom where she was found. Investigators also identified a bloody shoe print on the kitchen floor. Upon inspection, it was determined that the print was made as someone left Peacock's home and derived from a Danskin brand shoe. The print did not match the shoes worn by Morgan.[1]

         ¶7. From inside Peacock's home, investigators collected the following: (1) a bloody, white tank top, found in a clothes basket; (2) a long-handled steak knife with a bent tip and what appeared to be blood, which was found under clothes on the floor; and (3) a pair of bloody, women's underwear, located in the bathroom's garbage can. In addition, investigators observed cleaning supplies in the bathroom, surmising that a clean-up attempt had been made.

         ¶8. Moving outside Peacock's home, investigators searched her vehicle, which was parked in her driveway. Found inside her car was a pair of Nike Air Jordans and a white t-shirt, both of which had blood on them. A spot of blood was noted on the back seat, and a Brillo pad with what appeared to be carpet-like fibers within it was found.

         ¶9. That same evening, investigators were approached by Hall's mother, Jovita Hall, who lived nearby. Jovita told investigators that she had seen Hall wearing clothes in her home earlier that day that she knew were not his because they were too small for him. This information rendered Hall a possible suspect. As a result, investigators obtained a search warrant for Jovita's home and seized the following items: (1) a pair of black Danskin shoes, with blood on them; (2) a pair of black stretch pants, with blood on them; and (3) a brown tank top. When inspected, the soles of the Danskin shoes matched the bloody shoe print identified in Peacock's kitchen. While at Jovita's, investigators also seized a pair of gold Levi jeans, which also had blood ...


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