OF JUDGMENT: 09/26/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. PRENTISS GREENE HARRELL.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
W. DANIEL HINCHCLIFF.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: HALDON J. KITTRELL.
IRVING, P.J., WILSON AND TINDELL, JJ.
Following a jury trial in the Marion County Circuit Court,
Jerry Page was convicted of first-degree murder, arson,
possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and simple
assault on a law enforcement officer. The circuit court
sentenced Page, as a violent habitual offender, to four
consecutive terms of life imprisonment without the
possibility of parole.
Through appellate counsel, Page argues that his convictions
should be reversed for five reasons: (1) the trial judge
erred by admitting an unredacted copy of Page's New
Jersey Superior Court criminal case file, which the State
used to establish that Page was a convicted felon, an
essential element of the felon-in-possession charge; (2)
Page's trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by
refusing to stipulate that Page was a convicted felon, which
led to the admission of the New Jersey court file; (3) the
trial judge erred by allowing the jury to hear the audio of a
witness's prior statement and by allowing the jurors to
have a transcript of the statement while it was played; (4)
the trial judge erred by limiting Page's
cross-examination of a prosecution witness regarding the
witness's criminal history; and (5) the cumulative
prejudicial effect of these errors deprived Page of a fair
trial. Page also filed a pro se brief that alleges additional
errors. For the reasons discussed below, we find no
reversible error and affirm Page's convictions and
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On Labor Day morning, September 1, 2014, a thoroughly burned,
still smoldering pickup truck was found on East Reservoir
Road in rural Marion County. A burned human body was in the
bed of the truck. The truck was identified as a white Ford
Ranger owned by Billy Paul Cooper. The body was identified as
Billy Paul Cooper's son, Ryan Cooper.
Investigator Jamie Singley of the Marion County Sheriff's
Department noticed a puddle of blood at the back of the truck
and a trail of blood leading away from it. The trail led to
another puddle of blood in the driveway of Jerry Page's
residence on Goss-Bunkerhill Road. The blood trail then
continued to James Kelly's home on nearby Expose Road.
Later that day, Singley was looking for Page when he saw a
truck matching the description of Page's truck. Singley
followed the truck to a gas station, and confirmed from a
check of the license plate that it was Page's truck. Page
parked at the gas station and exited his truck, and Singley
exited his car and approached Page. Singley showed Page his
badge and stated that he wanted to talk. Page then ducked
behind a corner of the building, out of Singley's sight,
and Singley heard the "very familiar sound" of
"the rack of a pistol." Singley took cover and drew
his pistol, and he saw Page pointing a pistol in his
direction. Page then fled on foot, and Singley pursued him.
Still holding his pistol, Page motioned at Singley in a
threatening manner, as if to say "come on." Singley
decided to wait for backup before continuing his pursuit of
Page was apprehended that evening on Expose Road. The
arresting officers saw Page throw something into a ditch just
before he was taken into custody, and the officers recovered
a black semiautomatic pistol, a Lorcin .380, from the ditch.
Multiple witnesses implicated Page in Cooper's murder,
and Singley's investigation led him to conclude that Page
shot Cooper and that Anthony Abram helped Page move and burn
Cooper's body. Page and Anthony Abram were indicted and
Alex Abram testified that on August 31, 2014, he
hosted a barbecue at his home on Expose Road. As the party
wound down, Abram and David Holmes walked to James Kelly's
home, which was about a quarter of a mile away on Expose
Road. As Alex Abram and Holmes approached Kelly's house,
Abram heard people talking and arguing outside the house.
Abram saw two white trucks, one of which he recognized as
Page's truck. Alex Abram saw Page, Cooper, Anthony Abram,
and Alex Garner outside the house. As Alex Abram and Holmes
drew closer to Kelly's house, Alex Abram realized that
Page and Cooper were arguing. Alex Abram saw Page with a gun,
he "heard the gun cock, " and then he and Holmes
both turned and ran back toward his house.
Alex Abram testified that as he was running back to his
house, he saw the two white trucks drive by, but he could not
identify the drivers. The State was then allowed to refresh
Abram's memory by playing the audio of his prior
statement to law enforcement. The jurors listened to the
audio and were provided with transcripts to follow along;
however, neither the recording nor the transcript were
admitted into evidence, and the transcripts were collected
from the jurors immediately after the audio was played. His
memory refreshed, Alex Abram testified that he could identify
the drivers of the two trucks-Page was driving his own truck,
and Anthony Abram was driving Cooper's truck.
Holmes similarly testified that he and Alex Abram walked to
Kelly's house after the barbecue at Abram's house. As
they approached Kelly's house, Holmes saw Page, Cooper,
and Alex Garner engaged in conversation. Holmes did not see
Anthony Abram. Holmes testified that "[w]hen [he] heard
a gun cock, [he] turned and ran." He did not see the
gun, but he heard a gunshot as he ran. Holmes acknowledged
that he had been indicted for hindering prosecution in
connection with Cooper's murder, but the State agreed to
drop the charge in exchange for his truthful testimony
Garner testified that he rode with Cooper to Alex Abram's
barbecue. He testified that Cooper argued with Page, Anthony
Abram, Alex Abram, and Holmes. Cooper and Garner then left
the barbecue in Cooper's truck. As they drove away,
someone fired a gun in their direction. Garner testified that
he and Cooper drove to Kelly's house, and the other men
followed in Page's truck and confronted Cooper again.
Anthony Abram put a gun to Cooper's head but put it down.
Page then walked up and shot Cooper in the face. Garner
testified that Holmes and Alex Abram walked away after the
Garner testified that Anthony Abram put Cooper's body in
the back of Cooper's truck. Anthony Abram then drove off
in Cooper's truck, and Page followed in his own truck.
Page returned about forty-five minutes later, and Garner gave
him a gas can to help burn the blood in the driveway. Garner
also helped Page cover up blood with dirt. Page then left.
Garner testified that Page threatened that he would kill
Garner and Garner's mother if Garner told anyone about
the murder. Garner testified that Page made these threats
both on the night of the murder and later while they were
both in jail awaiting trial. Garner acknowledged that he had
been indicted as an accessory after the fact to murder and
for hindering prosecution. Garner testified that in exchange
for his truthful testimony against Page and Anthony Abram,
the State had agreed to recommend that he receive a sentence
of twenty years' imprisonment, with sixteen years
suspended and four years to serve, as an accessory after the
A Deputy State Fire Marshal examined the burnt truck and
testified that the fire was not set accidentally or caused by
an electrical incident. He determined that the fire started
in the cab of the truck, but he could not determine the
specific cause or source. Expert witnesses established that
blood found at Cooper's burned truck, at Page's
house, at Kelly's house, and at various points on the
trail between those locations was Cooper's blood. The
bullet that killed Cooper did not match the .380 Lorcin
pistol that Page tossed into a ditch just before his arrest.
The murder weapon was never recovered.
After the State rested, Anthony Abram called only one
witness, Hilda Patton, who testified that Anthony Abram was a
friend, that he lived at her house in August 2014, and that
he was at her house on the night of the murder. Patton
testified that she disclosed this information to Anthony
Abram's attorney about two weeks before trial. She
acknowledged that she had not told anyone else about this
during the two years that Anthony Abram had been in jail
pending trial. Page then recalled Singley for the purpose of
having the transcript of Singley's interview of Garner
read to the jury. Page then rested and the State finally
rested. The jury found Page guilty on all four charges
against him-first-degree murder, arson, possession of a
firearm by a convicted felon, and simple assault on a law
enforcement officer-and found Anthony Abram guilty as an
accessory after the fact to first-degree
murder. The court sentenced Page, as a violent
habitual offender, to four consecutive terms of life
imprisonment. See Miss. Code Ann. § 99-19-83
(Rev. 2015). Page filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding
the verdict or a new trial, which the circuit court denied,
and a notice of appeal.
As noted above, Page's appointed appellate counsel filed
a brief that raises five issues. See supra ¶2.
Page's supplemental pro se brief raises five additional
issues. We address these issues in turn.
I.The trial judge did not abuse his discretion by
admitting certifiedrecords of ...