OF JUDGMENT: 03/07/2017
FROM WHICH APPEALED: FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. DAL
WILLIAMSON JONES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, TRIAL JUDGE:
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
W. DANIEL HINCHCLIFF
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
KAYLYN HAVRILLA MCCLINTON
GRIFFIS, P.J., CARLTON, WILSON AND GREENLEE, JJ.
GREENLEE, J., FOR THE COURT:
James Edward Pryor challenges his conviction for driving a
vehicle while under the influence of an impairing substance
at an aggravated level (DUI).
The Jones County Circuit Court sentenced him to twenty-one
years with four years suspended, with seventeen years to
serve in the custody of the Mississippi Department of
Corrections, followed by four years of post-release
supervision. Pryor moved for a judgment notwithstanding the
verdict (JNOV) or, in the alternative, a new trial. The court
denied his motion, and Pryor appeals.
He alleges that: (1) evidence was insufficient to support the
guilty verdict; (2) the jury was not properly instructed on
the elements of aggravated DUI; (3) the circuit court erred
when it allowed an accident reconstructionist to testify; (4)
his ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim should be
preserved; and (5) the circuit court erred when it denied his
motion to suppress evidence. We affirm the circuit
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On a summer evening in 2013, a nurse was driving home from
work when she noticed a black truck hurriedly approaching her
from behind. Concerned by the driver's erratic behavior,
she cautiously slowed, allowing the black truck to pass.
The black truck then swerved and rear-ended the tan truck
driving ahead of the nurse. The collision pushed the tan
truck off the road where it rolled several times and pinned
one of its passengers beneath it. The nurse pulled over and
The black truck stopped, and its driver, Pryor, emerged. The
nurse asked him to sit or lie down until help came, but he
refused and repeatedly walked back and forth to his truck.
A patrolman with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety
soon arrived and spoke with Pryor. He saw Pryor's
staggered walk, heard his slurred speech, and smelled his
breath. Pryor told him that he drank alcohol that day and did
not remember the accident. The patrolman took Pryor to a
nearby hospital, where a warrant permitted Pryor's blood
to be drawn several hours later. The blood sample was sent to
a crime lab.
Later, another patrolman measured and documented the debris.
This patrolman also served as an accident reconstructionist.
He reviewed photographs, took notes, and wrote a report. He
later testified at trial as an expert.
Over the next several months, the crime lab tested
Pryor's blood, and the pinned passenger underwent eight
surgeries. The blood sample tested positively for both
alcohol and methamphetamine. At the time of trial, the
injured passenger-bedridden for nearly a year-could no longer
work at his former construction job and struggled to work as
a motel housekeeper once a week.
In March 2017, a jury found Pryor guilty of an aggravated DUI
offense. The circuit court sentenced him to twenty-one years
with four years suspended, with seventeen years to serve,
followed by four years of post-release supervision. Pryor
then moved for a JNOV or, in the alternative, a new trial,
which the circuit court denied. He appeals.
Was evidence sufficient to support the guilty
To determine whether evidence is sufficient to sustain a
conviction in Mississippi, we ask "whether, after
viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the
prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the
essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable
doubt." Brown v. State, 217 So.3d 805, 807
(¶5) (Miss. Ct. App. 2017) (citing Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 315 (1979)). An aggravated
DUI conviction in Mississippi stems from the following:
It is unlawful for any person to drive or otherwise operate a
vehicle within this state who (a) is under the influence of
intoxicating liquor; (b) is under the influence of any other
substance which has impaired such person's ability to
operate a motor vehicle; . . . [or] (d) is under the
influence of any drug or controlled substance, the ...