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Hicks v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 23, 2019

MARK HICKS APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/11/2018

          SIMPSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. STANLEY ALEX SOREY, TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: W. DANIEL HINCHCLIFF

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: BILLY L. GORE

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: MICHAEL GUEST

         EN BANC.

          WESTBROOKS, J.

         ¶1. Mark Hicks appeals from his conviction in the Simpson County Circuit Court of possession of stolen property as a habitual offender. Hicks argues that the circuit court improperly allowed evidence of past crimes in violation of Rule 404(b) of the Mississippi Rules of Evidence. After review of the record, we find that the court did not err, and we affirm.

         FACTS

         ¶2. In April 2015, a truck was stolen from Stamper Trucking Company in Louisiana. Seventeen days after the truck was stolen, the Simpson County Sheriff's Department executed an arrest warrant from Rankin County on Hicks. While executing the warrant, Investigator Bryan Buckley and Deputy Joe Andrews discovered the stolen truck. The truck was running, and Hicks was beside the vehicle.

         ¶3. Hicks denied that the truck was stolen and claimed that he owned the truck, but the ignition was dislodged from the dashboard and was hot wired. And the truck had "R. Stamper" painted on the door. Hicks was arrested and taken into custody.

         ¶4. At a pretrial hearing, Hicks's counsel orally presented a filed motion in limine to "prohibit introduction of any kind of evidence of other crimes or bad character" of Hicks. As part of this motion, Hicks wanted to exclude from the jury any evidence of why the deputies were with Hicks the night he was arrested. The State argued that it was "entitled to be able to tell its story of events" but that "[the State] is not going to specifically bring up the incident in Rankin County," where the arrest warrant for Hicks was issued. The court ruled that the deputies would only testify that the reason they were at Hicks's home was because "there [was] a warrant from another county."

         ¶5. At trial, the State questioned Deputy Andrews about how he met Hicks:

Q. Okay. If you would, tell us how you came to have contact with Mr. Hicks on that day.
A. We were looking for Mr. Hicks to serve an arrest warrant from another county.

         This testimony was in direct violation of the circuit court's initial ruling because the warrant was characterized as an "arrest warrant." Yet Hicks's counsel did not object. Again, when the State questioned ...


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