MAURICE LAMAINE HARRIS A/K/A MAURICE L. HARRIS APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 02/20/2018
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON.CHRISTOPHER A. COLLINS TRIAL JUDGE:
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
ERIN ELIZABETH BRIGGS
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
LAURA HOGAN TEDDER
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: STEVEN SIMEON KILGORE
BARNES, C.J., WESTBROOKS AND LAWRENCE, JJ.
A Scott County jury found Maurice Harris guilty of one count
of attempting motor vehicle theft and one count of possession
of methamphetamine. Harris now appeals, claiming that the
trial court erred in limiting his trial testimony regarding
his mental state during the crime and prior mental health
issues. Finding no error, we affirm.
Around midnight in May 2016, Porfirio Vellegas Modesto heard
his dogs barking outside his home in Forest, Mississippi. He
looked out a window but saw nothing suspicious. Even so, the
dogs continued to bark; so Modesto put on some clothes and
went outside to investigate. He walked to his red truck and
retrieved his .38 revolver. He then went to his white 2016
GMC company-truck and walked around it, but he did not see
anybody inside or outside the truck. He went to the
driver's side and noticed the passenger's side door
was open. Modesto went around the truck to the passenger side
and saw an individual exiting that door. The man had his hand
in his pocket. Feeling scared and wanting to protect his
family, Modesto fired his pistol at the man several times.
Harris was hit in the chest and fell to the ground. Someone
in Modesto's family called an ambulance immediately.
Officer Dewayne Robinson of the Forest Police Department was
the first person on the scene. When he arrived, he saw Harris
on the ground leaning up against the white truck with blood
coming from his shirt. Modesto was on the opposite side of
the truck holding a gun. Officer Robinson took the gun from
Modesto and secured it in his patrol car.
Robinson and the other officers arriving after him were
wearing body cameras that captured events at the scene. The
footage was entered into evidence and played for the jury.
Officer Robinson spoke to both Modesto and Harris. Modesto
told the officer that he shot Harris, and fired his gun at
least three times. He did not know Harris, and Harris did not
have permission to use his truck. Modesto was taken into
custody for questioning.
Harris appeared to be shot twice to the chest and abdomen.
Harris admitted to Officer Robinson he had some
"dope" on his person. He took it out of his pocket
and threw it under the truck. Officer Robinson retrieved the
substance and secured it in an evidence bag, which was put in
his patrol car. Forensic tests later determined the substance
to be 1.081 grams of methamphetamine. Officer Robinson also
found liquor and what appeared to be marijuana near Harris in
a plastic bag. He testified Harris seemed to be under the
influence of drugs or alcohol. While waiting for the
paramedics, Harris told Officer Robinson he was not trying to
steal the truck; he thought it was given to him by God as a
gift, but he was "misled" by a voice in his head.
He was just trying to get a ride to the casino to enjoy
himself. Harris apologized and prayed for forgiveness from
God and Modesto. Due to the severity of Harris's
injuries, he was airlifted to the hospital.
When Forest Police Investigator Nathan Yates arrived at the
scene, he spoke with the officers who arrived earlier.
Investigator Yates found drugs on the scene, which were
collected for evidence. Harris had already been airlifted,
but four months after the shooting Yates interviewed him. At
that time, Harris waived his rights and provided a verbal and
written statement; he did not appear to be under the
influence of drugs or alcohol. A suppression hearing was held
at trial, with the trial court finding the statement was
voluntary and admissible. Similar to the statement he gave
Officer Robinson four months previously at the scene, Harris
wrote: "I felt God had [done] something great for me and
that the truck ...