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Williams v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi

November 14, 2019

SYLVESTER WILLIAMS a/k/a VELP
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/25/2018

          LINCOLN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. MICHAEL M. TAYLOR TRIAL JUDGE

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: LESA HARRISON BAKER WILLIAM BRENDON ADAMS

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: W. DANIEL HINCHCLIFF SYLVESTER WILLIAMS (PRO SE)

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: JEFFREY A. KLINGFUSS

          BEFORE RANDOLPH, C.J., MAXWELL AND BEAM, JJ.

          MAXWELL, JUSTICE

         ¶1. An officer with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks saw Sylvester Williams-a convicted felon-throw a pistol from the passenger seat of a fleeing vehicle the officer had been pursuing. A jury found Williams guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. On appeal, his appellate counsel has filed a Lindsey brief, certifying he found no arguable issues to appeal.[1] Williams opted to file a pro se brief. He argues the State's evidence is insufficient and the jury's guilty verdict is against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. He also claims a judge and attorney should have recused, a defense witness was wrongly prevented from testifying, a jury instruction was incorrectly refused, and he received ineffective assistance of counsel.

         ¶2. After review, we find no merit to any of Williams's claims. The State sufficiently proved the charged crime. And the weight of the evidence supports the jury's guilty verdict. Williams's remaining claims lack any support. We therefore affirm Williams's conviction for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

         Background Facts and Procedural History

         ¶3. On May 27, 2017, Sylvester Williams was with a group of people swimming at Lake Lincoln, a State Park in Lincoln County, Mississippi. That day, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) Officers Sheila Smith and Gregory Holloway were patrolling the park. The officers were there to enforce state laws and park regulations.

         ¶4. Alcohol is prohibited at Lake Lincoln. And while observing the beach area, the officers noticed several men making trips from the beach to a parked white Grand Marquis. They would return with Styrofoam cups. The officers saw one of the men discard a large clear bottle in a trash can. Suspecting the men were drinking alcohol, the officers decided to approach them.

         ¶5. Officer Smith drove up to the Grand Marquis, got out of her truck, and walked to the driver's-side window. She asked the driver, Lawrence Buie, if they had been drinking that day. Despite the odor of alcohol coming from the car, he and the occupants said they had not. Officer Holloway then pulled up. As he did, Officer Smith looked back to see who was behind her. When she turned back around, Buie slammed down the accelerator and fled from the officers. Officer Holloway immediately pursued. Officer Smith then got back in her truck and followed. The two chased the Grand Marquis for about three miles, with sirens and lights activated.

         ¶6. Eventually, Officer Holloway was able to drive in front of Buie's car. He positioned his truck to force Buie to stop. Buie's car struck Holloway's truck on the driver's-side door. At this point, Holloway saw the front-seat passenger, Williams, with a pistol. Officer Holloway was "four or five" feet from Williams when Williams reached out the passenger window and threw the gun over the roof of Buie's car. It landed on the left side of the road. Officer Holloway then saw Williams throw another object toward the right side of the road.

         ¶7. Officer Smith pulled up quickly and boxed Buie's car in, preventing him from reversing. Buie was removed from the car and handcuffed. That is when Officer Smith found a .40 caliber Hi-Point pistol on the ground on the left side of the road. The officers picked up the pistol's ...


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