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Green v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

October 18, 2018

RICHARD LAMAR GREEN a/k/a RICHARD GREEN
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/02/2017

          RANKIN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. WILLIAM E. CHAPMAN, III

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: MICHAEL GUEST MARLIN A. MILLER WILLIAM ANDY SUMRALL THOMAS P. WELCH, JR.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF THE STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER JUSTIN TAYLOR COOK GEORGE T. HOLMES

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

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: MICHAEL GUEST

          RANDOLPH, PRESIDING JUSTICE.

         ¶1. Richard Lamar Green ("Green") was convicted in the Circuit Court of Rankin County for the attempted murder and kidnapping of his wife, Cathleen Green ("Cathy"). Green appeals his convictions, arguing that the State presented insufficient evidence to convict him of both counts. The Court finds that a reasonable juror could have found that the State had proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, each element of both convictions based on the testimony, evidence, and applicable law. We affirm Green's convictions and sentences.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Green and Cathy had been arguing for a few days. Cathy wanted a divorce because she was ready to be with someone else. Green found Cathy's phone and demanded that she unlock it, but she refused. Green became so agitated by Cathy's refusal that he walked outside and retrieved a machete from the toolbox of his vehicle. He then walked back inside and into the bedroom where Cathy and their four-year-old son were watching cartoons. Green removed Cathy from her bed, separating her from their child. Cathy threw her phone to the child and told him to call 911. Green dragged Cathy out of the bedroom and away from her son. He then forcibly dragged her down the hall, leaving bruises up and down her arms. Cathy was kicking and flailing as she tried to free herself from Green's grip, but he would not release her.

         ¶3. Upon reaching the living room (and out of their child's sight), Green repeatedly struck Cathy in the head with the machete. She tried to defend herself and received defensive wounds in the process. Cathy was screaming, asking Green, "stop, stop, what are you doing?" Green told Cathy, "I'm going to kill you with this machete." She was rendered helpless on the living room floor. When Green came back past her, Green told their son, "don't look at mommy." Cathy began pleading for her life. She told Green, "I'm your wife. What have you done? I have kids. I only have so much time. I only have so much blood. You've got to do something now that you've done this." Green just looked at her, put his head in his hands and said, "I'm going to have to kill myself now." Cathy was left motionless, grew cold, and her bowels emptied. Green walked over her and out the front door, locking the door behind him. He also took all the cell phones from the house. Then, son in tow, he fled. Instead of killing himself, Green called 911 to report what he had done to Cathy.

         ¶4. The first officer to arrive was able to see Cathy lying on the floor behind the locked door. Other officers arrived to the scene and broke the window to enter. Cathy's face was covered in blood. Blood spatters covered the walls and a large amount of blood surrounded Cathy. Cathy's right pinky finger had been severed and was lying to the left side of her body. The officer testified that seeing all of her wounds was difficult because of the excessive blood, but that he could see that she had one laceration on her forehead and another behind her head. He also observed hair and brain matter on the floor around her.

         ¶5. Cathy was in and out of consciousness. She was able to tell the officers that "Richie" had caused the injuries with a machete, and that he had left with their son. The Pearl Police Department issued a county-wide be-on-the-lookout ("BOLO") notice for Green's vehicle, and a state-wide BOLO was dispatched. An investigator arrived, took photographs, and collected blood samples. He also observed pools of blood, hair, and brain matter on the carpet.

         ¶6. Green later was apprehended in Pike County and returned to the Pearl police station. Green was read his Miranda [1] rights, which he, orally and in writing, agreed to waive. Green then confessed. The confession was recorded and played for the jury at trial. Cathy testified live. Her testimony corroborated Green's confession.

         ¶7. Cathy was hospitalized for one week and then was transferred to a rehabilitation center for four weeks. Cathy's skull was shattered, and part of it was missing. The cranium had been broken in a complex fashion and depressed against her brain. The inner lining of Cathy's skull was damaged, and her brain itself had been damaged. She also had brain matter in her wounds. Cathy received fifty staples on the crown of her head. Part of her head tissue died. Cathy also had sustained a cut that extended halfway down her face. Her eye socket was fractured, and a piece of her nose had been cut off. Cathy's pinky finger was amputated, and each of the tendons in one hand had been cut. Her ring finger also was broken. Cathy sustained cuts down her back and bruises down her neck and behind her ear.

         ¶8. Green was indicted for the attempted murder and kidnapping of Cathy. At trial, the law-enforcement officers, 911 operator, Cathy, and Cathy's treating physician testified. After the State rested, Green moved for a directed verdict. Green argued that the State had failed to prove all of the necessary elements for the charge of attempted murder. Specifically, Green argued that he had abandoned his attempt to murder Cathy because he called 911. Additionally, Green argued that no evidence was produced to support the charge of kidnapping. Instead, Green argued that what took place was merely a struggle that proceeded from one room to another. Despite evidence to the contrary, Green further claimed that he never restrained Cathy or kept her from leaving. The trial court denied Green's motion.

         ¶9. The jury found Green guilty, as charged in the indictment, of attempted murder in Count I and of kidnapping in Count II. The jury unanimously sentenced Green to life imprisonment on Count I. The jury was unable to agree on a penalty for Count II. The trial judge held a sentencing hearing on Count II and sentenced Green to a term of thirty years to be served consecutively with the sentence in Count I in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

         ¶10. Green filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict ("JNOV"), or alternatively, a motion for a new trial. Green argued, inter alia, that the verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence, reasserting his arguments that he had abandoned any attempt to murder Cathy and that he had not kidnapped Cathy. The trial judge denied Green's motion. Aggrieved, Green appeals.

         ISSUES

         ¶11. Green does not challenge the weight of the evidence. Rather, Green challenges the sufficiency of the ...


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