JIKIEL T. JONES a/k/a JIKIEL TRAQWOYNE JONES
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
OF JUDGMENT: 11/06/2017
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. CHRISTOPHER A. COLLINS JUDGE.
COURT ATTORNEYS: STEVEN KILGORE CHRIS POSEY MITCHELL D.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
JUSTIN T. COOK GEORGE T. HOLMES
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: STEVEN SIMEON KILGORE
KITCHENS, P.J., MAXWELL AND CHAMBERLIN, JJ.
A jury convicted Jikiel Jones of armed robbery, armed
carjacking and kidnapping in Scott County Circuit Court. On
direct appeal, Jones raises three errors: (1) that the trial
court erred by excluding his alibi witness, (2) that the
trial court erred by granting a deficient accomplice jury
instruction and (3) that the State failed to disclose
exculpatory evidence before trial.
After review of the first issue, we find that the trial court
abused its discretion by excluding the testimony of
Jones's alibi witness. While a per se violation of
Mississippi Rule of Criminal Procedure 17.4(a) did occur,
this violation cannot be held against Jones in light of his
original counsel's conflict of interest. Further, there
is no indication in the record that Jones's failure to
notice the prosecution of his alibi witness was willful or
motivated by a desire to obtain a tactical advantage. Thus,
we reverse Jones's conviction and remand the case for a
As to Jones's second issue on appeal, the accomplice jury
instruction given at trial was deficient. On remand, should
the trial court determine that Jones is entitled to an
accomplice jury instruction, the proper instruction is to be
given. Last, Jones waived his right to appeal the
prosecution's failure to disclose exculpatory evidence by
failing to object at trial.
At trial, the following facts were established. On the
afternoon of November 30, 2014, Walter Felix Ramirez was
vacuuming his Mazda 6 at a car wash on East Third Street in
Forest, Mississippi. Johndarious Anderson and Jikiel Jones
approached Ramirez at his car, intending to steal money. They
beat Ramirez, took his wallet and phone, forced him into the
back seat of his car and drove away from the car wash. While
Anderson drove, Jones sat in the backseat and held Ramirez at
knifepoint. Anderson testified that he and Jones had planned
on killing Ramirez. Anderson, however, soon took a curve too
fast and crashed the vehicle.
Chad Brantley heard the wreck and went to investigate. Upon
arriving at the scene, Brantley saw Jones and Anderson
running down the road away from the wreck. Brantley also saw
Ramirez outside of the vehicle. Brantley stopped Jones and
Anderson momentarily. One of them told him, "Don't
call the law." Brantley called the sheriff's office
and was informed that the car was likely stolen and that
there had been a reported kidnapping. Brantley then pursued
Jones and Anderson. He intercepted the two and held Anderson
at gunpoint until law enforcement arrived. Jones escaped
into the nearby woods.
Law enforcement arrested Anderson that day. Jones was
arrested several weeks later.
Upon his arrest, Anderson gave contradictory statements to
law enforcement. At first, he stated that he simply witnessed
two of his friends Jockell Ledbetter and Tywon "Ty"
Roberson attacking Ramirez. He stated that he got in the car
with them. Five days after his arrest, Anderson gave a second
statement that implicated him and Joc (Jones's nickname).
The second statement did not mention Tywon Roberson. Also, in
the second statement, Anderson admitted his own participation
in the crimes for the first time.
On November 21, 2016, a grand jury indicted Anderson and
Jones for armed robbery, armed carjacking and kidnapping.
Anderson pleaded guilty to the charges on February 1, 2017.
James Smith represented Anderson during his guilty plea. A
condition of Anderson's plea bargain required him to
testify at Jones's trial if the State chose to call him.
Jones was arraigned on August 25, 2017. That same day, Smith
(Anderson's attorney) was appointed to represent Jones.
There is no indication in the record that Jones had counsel
On the evening of Thursday, October 12, 2017-seven days
before Jones's scheduled trial date of October 19,
2017-Smith realized that he had a conflict of interest due to
his representation of Anderson. That evening, Smith told
Mitchell Thomas that Thomas would have to represent Jones.
Thomas agreed to the representation.
Thomas first met with Jones on Friday, October 13, 2017.
During this meeting, Thomas first learned of Jones's
alibi defense. According to Jones, his grandfather James
Ledbetter would testify that Jones was at Ledbetter's
home on November 30, 2014. Thomas met with Jones again on
Monday, October 16, 2017, to discuss Jones's defense.
According to Thomas, he realized on the morning of Tuesday,
October 17, 2017, that Rule 17.4(a)(1) of the Mississippi
Rules of Criminal Procedure required Jones to notice the
prosecutor of an alibi witness no less than ten days after
the prosecutor's written demand. Thomas prepared and filed a
notice of alibi that morning. The notice of alibi provided
that "James Ledbetter, grandfather of Jikiel Jones, will
testify that on November 30, 2014, prior to noon and
throughout the afternoon and evening, Jikiel was with him at
his house on Sherman Hill Rd. in Scott County, Mississippi
helping him work around the house and tend to horses."
After voir dire, the State moved to exclude Ledbetter's
testimony. Thomas responded that he did not intend to
surprise the prosecution but that, given the gravity of the
offenses, it would be "absolutely destructive" to
Jones's defense to exclude Ledbetter's testimony. The
trial court then asked the State if it would like to
interview Ledbetter and stated, "I'm not going to
exclude him as a witness at this time." The State then
Once the State had presented its case and had rested, it
renewed its motion to exclude Ledbetter's testimony. The
State argued that the two-day notice was insufficient for it
to have prepared to rebut Ledbetter's testimony.
Thomas responded to the State's motion. He explained his
late assignment to the case and reviewed the timeline of
events with the trial court. Thomas took full responsibility
for the timeliness issue and emphasized the necessity of the
alibi to Jones's case. The trial court then asked,
"[D]id your colleagues in the Public Defenders'
Office . . . advise you that this client, Jikiel Jones, had
previously talked to them about an alibi?" Thomas
responded, "Yes, I recall discussing that, Your
Honor." Thomas clarified, though, that his colleagues
had not told him anything about the case before his
assignment late on Thursday, October 12.
The State replied to Thomas's argument and maintained
that the public defender's office knew about the alibi
defense before Thomas's assignment to the case. Thomas
did not dispute that the public ...