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Jones v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 28, 2019

DARIUS EARL JONES A/K/A DARIUS JONES A/K/A DARIUS E. JONES APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/13/2017

          SCOTT 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

          BEFORE CARLTON, P.J., LAWRENCE AND C. WILSON, JJ.

          C. WILSON, J.

         ¶1. 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. 2015).

         ¶2. 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.

         ¶3. 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[1] hearing. Jones also alleges ineffective assistance of counsel.

         ¶4. 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 collateral relief.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶5. 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.

         ¶6. 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 ...


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