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Pettis v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 23, 2019

LARENZO PETTIS A/K/A LARENZO ARTHUR PETTIS A/K/A LARENZO A. PETTIS APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/23/2016

          HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. CHRISTOPHER LOUIS SCHMIDT TRIAL JUDGE

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

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: JEFFREY A. KLINGFUSS

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: JOEL SMITH

          BEFORE J. WILSON, P.J., GREENLEE AND McCARTY, JJ.

          GREENLEE, J.

         ¶1. Following trial, a Harrison County jury found Larenzo Pettis guilty of robbery in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-3-73 (Rev. 2014). The circuit court sentenced Pettis to a term of fifteen years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), with eight years suspended after seven years served, followed by five years of post-release supervision. Pettis appeals, arguing that his conviction is contrary to the sufficiency and overwhelming weight of the evidence. We affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2. On the early morning of July 2, 2014, Pettis left the Walmart in Pass Christian with a flat-screen television that he did not pay for. Joseph Albert, a Walmart assistant manager tasked with asset protection, confronted Pettis at the store's exit, blocking Pettis from leaving the building with the television in his shopping cart. Pettis reached in his left pocket and threatened Albert, stating "this is not worth dying for, . . . getting shot over, . . . [or] getting cut." Pettis grabbed the television from the cart and ran out of the building. The incident was recorded on a store surveillance camera and was viewed by the jury. During trial, Albert testified that he was unsure whether Pettis had a gun or knife in his pocket but was scared by Pettis's threats and believed that Pettis meant to leave with the television "by any means." Albert identified Pettis as the defendant in court.

         ¶3. Samuel Daniels, a Walmart employee who witnessed the incident, testified that he could not hear what Pettis told Albert but saw Pettis reach toward his pants. Daniels said that in Walmart it was unusual to see customers with televisions in their shopping carts because Walmart policy encouraged store attendants to assist customers with transporting televisions. Daniels explained that the electronics section was located in the back of the store and that when a customer buys a television, a Walmart associate escorts the customer and television to the front register.

         ¶4. Pettis testified in his own defense. He maintained that Albert approached him at the store's exit and asked if he had a receipt. Pettis said he reached toward his pocket to act like he was reaching for a receipt but never verbally threatened Albert.

         ¶5. Following deliberations, the jury found Pettis guilty of robbery. Pettis filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or in the alternative, a motion for a new trial, which the trial court denied. Pettis has timely filed his appeal, arguing there was insufficient evidence for the jury to convict him of robbery and, in the alternative, the verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence.

         STANDARD ...


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