DARIUS EARL JONES A/K/A DARIUS JONES A/K/A DARIUS E. JONES APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 11/13/2017
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. CHRISTOPHER A. COLLINS TRIAL JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: MARK A. CLIETT
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
KATY T. GERBER JASON DAVIS
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: STEVEN SIMEON KILGORE
CARLTON, P.J., LAWRENCE AND C. WILSON, JJ.
Darius Earl Jones ("Jones") was indicted for
possession of at least 250 grams but less than 500 grams of
Fubinaca, a Schedule I controlled substance, pursuant to
Mississippi Code Annotated section 41-29-139(c)(2)(D) (Rev.
2013). A Scott County jury convicted Jones as a subsequent
drug offender under Mississippi Code Annotated section
41-29-147 (Rev. 2013) and as a non-violent habitual offender
under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-81 (Rev.
Following Jones's conviction, the circuit court sentenced
Jones to serve sixteen years in the custody of the
Mississippi Department of Corrections ("MDOC"), to
run consecutively to any sentence he was already serving.
Additionally, the court ordered Jones to pay restitution to
the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics in the sum of $625, plus
all filing and processing fees.
Jones subsequently filed a motion for a judgment
notwithstanding the verdict ("JNOV") or, in the
alternative, a new trial, which was denied by the circuit
court. Jones now appeals and challenges: (1) the sufficiency
of the evidence; (2) the weight of the evidence; and (3) the
admission of a prior conviction without a Peterson v.
State hearing. Jones also alleges ineffective
assistance of counsel.
With regard to the first three assignments of error, we
affirm. We decline to decide Jones's
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim on direct appeal
without prejudice to his right to pursue post-conviction
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In 2016, Mika Beatty ("Beatty") was the manager of
the Scott County Forest Coliseum (the "Coliseum").
As the manager, Beatty was responsible for preparing the
Coliseum for events. Because these preparations often
required manual labor, Beatty enlisted the assistance of a
prison trusty. On June 2, 2016, Jones was assigned to the
Coliseum as a trusty under Beatty's supervision. Beatty
testified that Jones was the only inmate on site that day.
When Jones arrived at the Coliseum, he was wearing a standard
prison uniform and a jacket. Jones's first task was to
help Beatty rake out the cattle pens behind the Coliseum.
Before going outside to rake the cattle pens, Jones placed
his jacket on a bench inside.
Around lunchtime, Jones told Beatty that he needed to use the
restroom and get some water. According to Beatty, Jones had
not left her sight up to that point. Beatty allowed Jones to
take a break, but after thirty-to-forty-five minutes had
passed without his return, she went inside to look for him.
Beatty testified that when she found Jones, he seemed "a
little nervous, a little agitated." Beatty then told
Jones to start weed eating so she could look around the
Coliseum to see what Jones might have disturbed. When she
checked the men's restroom, she smelled a strong odor of
marijuana. Beatty then noticed Jones's jacket on the
bench near the main entrance, and, based on ...