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Bostic v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 18, 2019

MICAH BOSTIC A/K/A DROP APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/10/2017

          ALCORN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. PAUL S. FUNDERBURK

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: ERIN ELIZABETH BRIGGS

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: BARBARA WAKELAND BYRD JOSEPH SCOTT HEMLEBEN

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: J. TRENT KELLY

          BEFORE J. WILSON, P.J., WESTBROOKS AND McDONALD, JJ.

          McDONALD, J.

         ¶1. Micah Bostic was convicted of capital murder in the Alcorn County Circuit Court and sentenced to a term of life imprisonment without eligibility for parole. Subsequently, Bostic filed a motion for a judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the verdict ("JNOV") and alternatively requested a new trial. The motion was denied. Bostic now appeals the issue of whether the circuit court erred in failing to suppress his statements made to the officers on February 3, 2016, which were obtained after he requested an attorney. Although we agree that the motion to suppress should have been granted because the officers violated his rights against self-incrimination and his right to counsel, as guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, [1] we find that the court's decision resulted in harmless error and affirm the conviction.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. On February 1, 2016, two men attempted to rob the Mapco service station in Corinth, Mississippi. When the clerk reached for the panic alarm one suspect shot her multiple times. Corinth Police responded to the Mapco service station's panic alarm at 5:39 a.m. The clerk later died from those wounds. When the detectives viewed the surveillance video, Brooklyn Traylor, the co-defendant, was identified as the shooter. The second suspect could not be identified from the Mapco surveillance video.

         ¶3. When Traylor's parents learned that he was a suspect, they took him to the police station. Traylor denied his involvement in his first interview. On February 2, 2016, Traylor's parents watched the surveillance video and met with him privately. Then, Traylor gave another statement in which he admitted to committing the crime and stated Bostic, the appellant, also known as "Drop," was with him.

         ¶4. On or about February 3, 2016, Bostic was arrested. During Bostic's interrogation, he clearly invoked his right to counsel when he stated, "I am taking my mother's advice, I want an attorney," but the officers continued questioning him. Bostic requested an attorney several times throughout the interrogation, yet the interrogation lasted nearly fifty-two minutes.

         ¶5. A grand jury indicted Bostic and Traylor for capital murder with the underlying felony being armed robbery. Bostic filed a motion to sever the cases, which the trial court granted.

         ¶6. On January 19, 2017, Bostic filed a motion to suppress his statements made on or about February 3, 2016. Bostic argued that despite his multiple requests for an attorney, the investigators continued to interrogate him violating his constitutional right to an attorney.

         ¶7. On February 7, 2017, the State filed its response to Bostic's motion to suppress. The State argued Bostic's request for an attorney was vague. The State contends the investigators immediately ceased the interrogation and did not ask any further questions regarding the charge at issue. The State also contends the few words spoken by the investigator were not likely to elicit an incriminating response.

         ¶8. After a hearing on the issue the circuit court denied Bostic's motion to suppress his statements made on February 3, 2016. The court found that the statements made by Bostic to the detectives "were voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently made after being informed of his Miranda rights which he knowingly and voluntarily waived."[2]

         ¶9. On October 3, 2017, a trial on the merits began. During the trial the State called fifteen witnesses. Some of the witnesses testified to the logistics of the crime itself but the following witnesses' testimony pertained to Bostic's involvement.

         ¶10. Captain Benjamin Gann testified that he found a loose distinctive patterned blue hoodie in a dumpster near the laundromat 75-100 yards away from the scene of the incident. Gann also testified that all of the garbage in the dumpster was bagged except for the distinctive patterned blue hoodie which fit the description of what the second suspect wore.

         ¶11. During officer Jerry Rogers's testimony the State offered Bostic's videotaped interview into evidence. The videotaped interview included details pertaining to Bostic's prior conviction for armed robbery, his whereabouts and alibi for the night before and morning of the incident, his affiliations with Traylor, and his prior gang affiliations with "gangster disciples." Bostic never admitted to being at the scene where the victim in this case was murdered.

         ¶12. Ashanti Alexander, who claimed to be Bostic's girlfriend during the time of the incident, testified that Bostic was known as "Drop." Ashanti could not testify about Bostic's whereabouts on the night before the incident or during the time the incident occurred (sometime before 5:39 a.m.). She could only testify that Bostic arrived at Elease Lavey Trice's apartment sometime before daylight on the morning the murder occurred. Once Bostic arrived, she heard him tell Dezzon Thomas that Traylor shot someone seven times.[3]Ashanti stated that Bostic was wearing the distinctively patterned blue hoodie the day before the incident. But he was not wearing a hoodie when she saw him after the occurrence of the murder.[4]

         ¶13. Lavey, the owner of the apartment where Bostic, Traylor, and Dezzon were at some point before or after the incident, testified that Bostic was also known as "Drop." Lavey could not testify as to Bostic's whereabouts prior to the incident's occurrence. She testified that about 7 a.m. she woke up to Traylor beating on her back door and asking to speak to Bostic. Lavey further testified that Bostic was not at her home when she went to bed; therefore, someone must have let Bostic in while she was asleep.

         ¶14. Dezzon testified that he had heard people call Bostic "Drop." He contends he woke up to Bostic knocking on the front door of Lavey's apartment. He testified that Bostic told him that Traylor had just killed a woman at the store. Dezzon's testimony contradicted with Ashanti's testimony with respect to whether Bostic was at Lavey's house on the night before the murder. Dezzon's testimony also ...


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