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Williams v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 16, 2019

RAHIM DIQUAN WILLIAMS A/K/A RAHIM WILLIAMS A/K/A RAHIM D. WILLIAMS A/K/A YP APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/03/2017

          MADISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. WILLIAM E. CHAPMAN III TRIAL JUDGE:

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: HEATHER MARIE ABY

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: SCOTT STUART

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: MICHAEL GUEST

          BEFORE BARNES, C.J., TINDELL AND McCARTY, JJ.

          BARNES, C.J.

         ¶1. Rahim Williams was convicted of conspiracy to commit burglary and sentenced to five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). He appeals his conviction, arguing that the verdict was against weight of the evidence. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Ashley Brown, Jessica Baugh, and Stephanie Mejia got off work at Last Call Sports Bar around 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, January 10, 2016, and went for drinks at a nearby club. After a couple of drinks, Brown left and went to her and Baugh's apartment located at 110 Pine Knoll, Ridgeland, Mississippi. Baugh and Mejia went to Fairfield Inn to meet up with friends, including Baugh's male friend, Chris Jones. Baugh saw Mejia talking with a group of guys-she recognized one of them as Amonteel Pates. Baugh and Jones went back to her apartment early that morning and went to sleep. They left the door unlocked for Mejia because they had invited her to sleep there rather than drive home. Jones heard a noise, got up from bed, and saw three men in the living room. He noted they were holding a purse. When they saw him, they quickly left. When he woke up Baugh to tell her about the men, she ignored him, thinking Mejia was entertaining friends. However, when Brown left to go to work Sunday afternoon, she noticed that her keys, wallet, and car-an orange Dodge Charger-were missing. She soon discovered that her debit card had been used Sunday morning. Baugh's purse was also missing, including almost $300 in cash. They contacted the Ridgeland Police Department (RPD) and reported the stolen items. Baugh later discovered that her iPad mini had been taken as well.

         ¶3. A blue baseball cap was recovered from the apartment. Jones told RPD he had seen Pates wearing that hat in a social media photo. RPD also found video evidence showing Pates buying Nike tennis shoes using Brown's debit card. Pates was arrested on Friday, January 15, and the police noticed two new pairs of Nike shoes inside the front door. Pates admitted to the officer that he had bought them with the stolen debit card. During his interview, Pates's story changed several times. He first claimed that he found the stolen debit card on the ground near his aunt's home in Jackson. When asked how his hat ended up in Brown's and Baugh's apartment, Pates claimed he was set up. Eventually, Pates told RPD that he and four others-Williams, Fabiyonne Peel, Jontavian Eubanks, and Michael Tillman-had gone to Baugh's apartment and taken the credit cards and the car. The other four were later taken into custody. The iPad mini was found at Eubanks's home. When questioned by RPD about the burglary and auto theft, Williams denied involvement and claimed he had been at his sister's apartment near Tougaloo, Mississippi.

         ¶4. Williams, Tillman, Pates, Peel, and Eubanks were indicted for burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, motor vehicle theft, and conspiracy to commit theft of a motor vehicle. The State later moved to amend the indictment to charge Williams as a habitual offender under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-81 (Rev. 2015). The trials were bifurcated, and Williams's jury trial was held in Madison County Circuit Court on October 25-26, 2017.

         ¶5. Detective Adrien Ready testified at trial that the investigation first led RPD to Pates, who initially told several different lies regarding how he got the debit cards. When police went to Eubanks's home, Eubanks and Peel tried to hide. Detective Ready stated that during questioning, Williams "said he had nothing to do with Amonteel Pates . . . and he had absolutely no contact with him." However, he further noted that cell phone records showed that Williams and Pates talked with each other twenty-seven times on the night of the burglary and auto theft.

         ¶6. Tillman, an accomplice and Eubanks's cousin, testified that he broke into the apartment and took the Dodge Charger. He said that he and the other four men (Pates, Eubanks, Peel, and Williams) made plans at the Fairfield Inn to "go get the bag of money out ...


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