OF JUDGMENT: 12/21/2017
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. JEFF WEILL
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
W. DANIEL HINCHCLIFF.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
LAURA HOGAN TEDDER.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: ROBERT SHULER SMITH.
BARNES, C.J., TINDELL AND McCARTY, JJ.
Michael Greene was convicted of possession of a firearm by a
felon after a traffic checkpoint that led to the discovery of
a gun on the floorboard of the car he was driving. At trial,
the State firmly tied the weapon to Greene through the
testimony of the officer on the scene, who saw it pinned
beneath the defendant's left foot. The State also
attempted to connect the weapon to the defendant through the
use of a photograph and a video found on Facebook.
On appeal, Greene argues that the trial court should have
suppressed the internet- based evidence presented against
him, as it was not properly authenticated. While the evidence
should have been excluded under our rules of evidence, its
admission was harmless error in light of the properly
admitted eyewitness testimony presented at trial. As a
result, we affirm.
Greene was driving a Pontiac when he was stopped at an
administrative checkpoint. Officer Brandon Caston, a
patrolman for the Jackson Police Department, was in charge of
the checkpoint. According to the officer, "[t]he purpose
of the check point was to check driver's licenses and
proof of insurance."
When Greene drove up, Officer Caston asked for his
driver's license and proof of insurance. Greene did not
have either and could not produce any form of photo
identification. Officer Caston noticed Greene's left foot
perched on top of a gun featuring an extended clip.
Officer Caston asked Greene to turn the Pontiac off and step
out of the vehicle. Officer Caston retrieved the handgun, a 9
mm, and cleared a round from the chamber before securing the
weapon in the back of the patrol car. He told Greene that he
was going to run the gun through the system. Greene asked,
"[O]nce you run my gun and it comes back clear, are you
gone let me go?"
No record of the gun was found, but the Pontiac's tag
connected the car and its contents to Greene. Office Caston
asked Greene for his MDOC number-and Greene immediately answered.
Armed with knowledge that the driver, who had no
identification and no insurance, was likely a felon in
possession of a weapon, Officer Caston reached for his
Greene made a break for it and hopped out of the Pontiac on
the passenger's side. Officer Caston tried in vain to
snag the suspect, but Greene eluded capture.
Greene was later arrested and brought to trial in the Hinds
County Circuit Court. At trial, Officer Caston positively
identified Greene in the courtroom. He also gave a specific
description of Greene as he appeared on the day of the
traffic stop-"brown skin, slim male, [with] reddish
color twist hair . . . and tattoos."
At trial, the State attempted to link the gun found in the
Pontiac to Greene through a photograph taken from a Facebook
account. The State also wanted to introduce into evidence a
video allegedly taken of Greene shortly after the checkpoint
stop. Neither piece of evidence was from Michael Greene's
account; instead, the account belonged to "Mike
The murky photograph, uploaded almost a month prior to the
traffic checkpoint, was a close-up of a face; the photograph
was dark, and the face was obscured by a box of 9 mm
ammunition. The video was clearer, and it included a rambling
discourse by the speaker-alleged to be Greene-about how he
felt having his car and gun taken from him.
The photo and video were not produced in discovery. Instead,
the State informed the trial court the morning of trial that
it wished to offer both into evidence. Greene's trial
counsel argued that the untimely submission should
automatically result in the exclusion of evidence and that it
should be suppressed for lack of authenticity. Defense
counsel emphasized that the Facebook page from ...