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Byrd v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 9, 2019


          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/02/2017





         EN BANC.

          J. WILSON, P.J.

         ¶1. Shon Pierre Byrd Jr. was indicted for capital murder, armed robbery, and three counts of credit card fraud in connection with the death and robbery of an elderly man in the parking lot of a Meridian grocery store. Byrd's first trial ended in a mistrial. In Byrd's second trial, the jury deadlocked on the charge of capital murder but found Byrd guilty of armed robbery and three counts of credit card fraud. The court sentenced Byrd to serve forty years for armed robbery and three years for each count of credit card fraud, with the sentences to be served consecutively in the custody of the Department of Corrections.

         ¶2. On appeal, Byrd argues (1) that his second trial was barred by double jeopardy; (2) that the trial court abused its discretion by excluding recordings of 911 calls that allegedly supported his theory of defense; and (3) that the jury's guilty verdicts were against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. We find no error and affirm.


         ¶3. On May 11, 2014, eighty-seven-year-old H.L. Putnam was shot and killed as he sat in his car outside Vowell's Marketplace in Meridian. Putman was shot three times in the chest with a 9 mm pistol. Police recovered three spent 9 mm projectiles and two casings but never found the gun. Putnam's wallet was also missing.

         ¶4. Putnam had purchased some flowers and groceries from Vowell's shortly before he was killed. Summer Bowden, a Vowell's cashier, testified that she noticed a $100 bill in Putnam's wallet as he checked out. Moments after Putnam left the store, Bowden heard gunshots and saw someone running across the parking lot. She did not see any vehicle at the time she heard the gunshots. At trial, she identified Shon Byrd as the person she saw running across the Vowell's parking lot.

         ¶5. Police had previously shown Bowden two photo lineups: one on the day of the shooting and another four months later. Bowden identified a possible suspect from the first photo lineup but did not identify the same man in the second photo lineup. Instead, in the second photo lineup, she identified Byrd as the person she saw running across the parking lot. Byrd's photo had not been included in the first photo lineup. Despite her initial mistaken identification, Bowden was confident at trial that Byrd was the person she saw running.

         ¶6. Several other Vowell's employees and customers testified. One customer said that immediately after the shooting, he saw a young man running away from the store who appeared to be carrying something heavy in his pocket. Another customer testified that he saw a young black man running through the parking lot after the shooting. A Vowell's employee who was in the parking lot heard gunshots and then saw a black man running toward Shumate Road with a gun in his hand. A woman in the parking lot heard gunshots, and she saw a white Mercury Marquis moving slowly through the parking lot, but she could not see the car's occupants. However, none of these witnesses saw the actual shooting, nor were they able to identify the person they saw running.

         ¶7. Kirby Clay was in the parking lot on a lunch break at the time of the shooting. He testified that he heard a "commotion" and saw a white Mercury Grand Marquis or Lincoln Crown Victoria near the "commotion." The car was parked with its driver's door open. Clay saw someone wearing gym shorts and a t-shirt approaching the car. Clay ran inside when he heard the shots and did not see the shooting.

         ¶8. Jason Dyess was walking out of the store when he heard gunshots and saw people running. Dyess testified that he saw a young black man running from the scene wearing a black shirt and black shorts. He also saw a white car driving slowly toward the man running from the scene. Dyess left Vowell's and drove in the same direction as the white car. He saw the car stopped on Shumate Road and saw one of the car's doors closing, although he was not able to see anyone getting in or out of the car. Dyess called 911 and provided the car's license plate number. He then returned to the Vowell's parking lot to tell the police what he had seen.

         ¶9. Investigator Kevin Boyd determined that the license plate number provided by Dyess matched a white Grand Marquis registered to Delphine Pritchard. Boyd and two other detectives went to Delphine's home, and she told them that her son DeCarlos Clark had been driving the car that day. Boyd obtained information that DeCarlos could be found across the street at Lyndell Pritchard's[1] house, and police obtained a search warrant for Lyndell's house. Police had no evidence that Lyndell was involved in the homicide/robbery. When police went to Lyndell's house, they found Byrd and Clark, and both were taken in for questioning.

         ¶10. While the police were interviewing Byrd and Clark, one officer noticed that Byrd was wearing an ankle monitor, which indicated that he might be on probation of some sort. They later determined that Byrd had been placed on probation by the Lauderdale County Youth Court. Al Moore, who supervises youth court probationers for Lauderdale County, testified at trial, and reports showing the location of Byrd's ankle monitor between 11 a.m. and 12:59 p.m. and between 1:30 p.m. and 5:08 p.m. on May 11, 2014, were admitted into evidence. Moore explained that the monitor transmitted a location signal every five minutes and was generally accurate within 100 feet. The records indicated that Byrd was in the area of Vowell's from 12:33 to 12:38 p.m. The records indicated that Byrd moved from Vowell's toward Delphine's house between 12:38 p.m. and 12:59 p.m. Finally, the records showed that Byrd was in the area of the Bonita Lakes Mall around 3 p.m.

         ¶11. Veronica Ferguson testified that she was at Delphine's house on May 11, 2014, when Delphine asked her to go get some bread. Ferguson asked Clark for a ride, and she testified that Byrd asked to go with them. Ferguson said that Byrd had been across the street at Lyndell's house. Lyndell was Ferguson's boyfriend.

         ¶12. Ferguson testified that she, Clark, and Byrd drove to Vowell's, which was about four miles from Delphine's house. Clark drove the white Mercury Grand Marquis. They did not discuss any crime on the way to Vowell's, but as they pulled into the parking lot, Byrd said he saw "a lick." Ferguson testified that "a lick" meant "seeing something you want and deciding to get it," whether by legal or illegal means. She testified that, at first, she thought that Byrd was going to steal something from the store. She denied any prior knowledge that Byrd was going to commit a specific crime, and she testified that she told Byrd not to do it. Clark slowed the car, and Byrd got out before the car came to a complete stop, four or five cars away from Putnam. Ferguson told Clark to leave or else she would walk home. Clark drove away, but as they were leaving, Ferguson heard three or four gunshots. She did not see Byrd shoot Putnam, and she said that she had not seen Byrd with a gun.

         ¶13. Ferguson testified that when Clark stopped at a stop sign, Byrd ran up and got back inside the car. Ferguson asked Byrd if he had killed someone. Byrd replied, "What do you think?"

         ¶14. When Ferguson returned to Delphine's house, she told Delphine what had happened, and Delphine called the police. Clark and Byrd soon left Delphine's house in Clark's car and went to get Lyndell's car, a Chevrolet Impala, which was out "in the country." Clark and Byrd returned about half an hour later, this time in Lydnell's Impala. The ...

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