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Baker v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

December 4, 2018

THAXTER T. BAKER A/K/A THAXTER BAKER APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/31/2017

          CHICKASAW COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. JOHN ANDREW GREGORY TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ROBERT SNEED LAHER

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: ABBIE EASON KOONCE

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: BENJAMIN F. CREEKMORE

          BEFORE IRVING, P.J., CARLTON AND FAIR, JJ.

          CARLTON, J.

         ¶1. A Chickasaw County jury convicted Thaxter T. Baker of burglary of a dwelling. The trial court sentenced Baker to serve twenty-five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), with ten years suspended. The trial court also ordered Baker to pay approximately $2, 833.50 in restitution and costs. Baker filed posttrial motions, which the trial court denied.

         ¶2. Baker now appeals his conviction and sentence, arguing that: (1) the evidence presented was insufficient to sustain the conviction and (2) the trial court erred in refusing Baker's circumstantial-evidence jury instruction.

         ¶3. Finding no error, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         FACTS

         ¶4. On August 15, 2014, officers with the Okolona Police Department responded to a 911 call about a suspicious vehicle parked across from the "city barn," a facility that the City of Okolona used for water, sewer, and sanitation services. Upon arriving at the scene, the officers encountered Baker, who possessed items that linked him to a house burglary a block away. Baker was arrested and later indicted for burglary of a dwelling, in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-17-23 (Rev. 2014).

         ¶5. At a trial held on January 25, 2017, the jury heard testimony from Officers Joey Miller, Tomeka Betts, and Dwight Parker of the Okolona Police Department, as well as Cassidy Edwards, the house-burglary victim. Baker also testified in his own defense. The jury ultimately returned a guilty verdict, and the trial court sentenced Baker to serve twenty-five years in the custody of the MDOC, with ten years suspended and fifteen years to serve. The trial court also ordered Baker to pay $1, 000 in full restitution to the victims, $433.50 in court costs, $1, 000 for the court-appointed counsel fee, a $200 bond fee, $100 to the Victim's Compensation fund, and $100 in investigative expenses, for a total of $2, 833.50.

         ¶6. Baker filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), or, in the alternative, for a new trial. The record reflects that Baker's posttrial motions were untimely. However, the trial court entered an order denying Baker's posttrial motions and reopening the time for Baker to perfect his appeal. Baker subsequently filed his notice appealing his conviction and sentence.

         DISCUSSION

         I.Sufficiency of the ...


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