OF JUDGMENT: 09/20/2017
FROM WHICH APPEALED: ATTALA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE:
HON. GEORGE M. MITCHELL JR.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
GEORGE T. HOLMES
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: KAYLYN
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: DOUG EVANS
CARLTON, P.J., TINDELL AND McDONALD, JJ.
Young was indicted on one count of armed robbery, in
violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-3-79 (Rev.
2014), and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon,
in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-37-5(1)
(Rev. 2014). He was tried on September 14, 2017, in Attala
County Circuit Court. During voir dire, Young was removed
from the courtroom due to his outbursts and belligerent
behavior that took place both before trial started and during
voir dire in front of the jury panel.
Young's counsel moved for a mistrial on the grounds that
the jury panel had seen some of Young's outbursts and had
heard an altercation between Young and law enforcement
officers when he was removed from the courtroom. The trial
court denied the motion. Later, Young was brought back into
the courtroom to testify on his own behalf and was allowed to
stay in the courtroom for the remainder of trial.
The jury found Young guilty of both counts against him, and
the trial court sentenced Young as a habitual offender to
serve twenty-five years in the custody of the Mississippi
Department of Corrections (MDOC) for the armed-robbery
conviction and ten years for the felon-in-possession
conviction, to run consecutively. Young appealed, asserting
that (1) the trial court erred in removing him from the
courtroom; and (2) the trial court erred by denying his
motion for a mistrial. Finding no error, we affirm.
OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
As detailed below,  Young was removed from the courtroom after
voir dire had begun due to a number of his outbursts before
trial and during the beginning of voir dire. Before voir dire
resumed, Young's counsel moved for a mistrial on the
grounds that the jury panel had seen some of the
defendant's outbursts and had overheard a scuffle between
Young and law enforcement officers outside the courtroom when
Young was removed from the courtroom. The trial court held
its ruling in abeyance until voir dire was completed. After
voir dire, the motion for mistrial was revisited and denied
by the trial court. The jury was selected, and the State
presented its case. Young was brought back into the courtroom
to testify on his behalf and was allowed to stay for the
remainder of the trial upon his assurance to the trial court
that he would behave.
The State's first witness was the cashier on duty at the
Blue Sky Exxon in Kosciusko on January 29, 2016, around 1:00
a.m. She testified that, at that time, two masked men with
guns entered the store, ordered her to open the cash
register, and then took the entire cash drawer, which
amounted to around $300. The cashier testified that the men
then left the store, got in a vehicle, and left the scene.
Officer Danny Groves, of the Kosciusko Police Department, was
the State's next witness. He testified that the driver of
the vehicle, Beatrice Davis, was eventually found with the
car a few miles down the road, and she was taken into
custody. Officer Bradley Fancher, who was working for the
Kosciusko Police Department at the time, testified that he
arrived at the scene, and then recovered a handgun, two
masks, and a white glove from the getaway vehicle.
Beatrice Davis then testified, stating that she was with
Derrick Young (the defendant) and Antonio Gant the evening of
January 28th, and they talked about "hit[ting] a
lick," meaning "get[ting] some money." She
testified that Young and Gant robbed the Blue Sky Exxon in
Investigator Greg Collins with the Kosciusko Police
Department testified that Young and Gant were arrested based
upon the information provided by Davis, and their DNA was
collected to compare to the DNA found in the two masks. The
State's forensic scientist, Brandi Goodman, testified
that the two masks recovered from the vehicle contained DNA
from Young and Gant.
As noted above, Young was then brought into the courtroom to
testify on his own behalf. He testified that he was not
involved with the robbery of the Blue Sky Exxon in Kosciusko
on January 29, 2016.
The jury found Young guilty on both counts against him, Count
I, armed robbery, and Count II, felon in possession of a
firearm. The trial court sentenced Young as a habitual
offender under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-81
(Rev. 2015) to twenty-five years in the custody in MDOC for
the armed robbery conviction and ten years for the
felon-in-possession conviction, to run consecutively. Young
filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or
in the alternative, for a new trial. The trial court denied
it. Young appealed.
Young's Removal from the Courtroom
Young asserts that his Sixth Amendment right to be present at
his trial was violated because (1) his conduct in the
courtroom was not so disruptive that it was necessary to
remove him, and (2) even if his removal was justified, the
trial court erred because it did not tell him that he could
return to the courtroom if he assured the court of future