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Williams v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

January 7, 2020

WILTON WILLIAMS II APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/12/2018

          PIKE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. DAVID H. STRONG JR. TRIAL JUDGE.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: MOLLIE MARIE McMILLIN

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: SCOTT STUART

          BEFORE BARNES, C.J., McDONALD AND LAWRENCE, JJ.

          LAWRENCE, J.

         ¶1. Following a car accident, Wilton Williams was charged with driving under the influence (DUI)-his fourth offense. Williams was later convicted and sentenced to ten years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with two years suspended and eight years to serve, followed by two years of post-release supervision. Williams now appeals, asserting that he was denied a right to a fair trial based on the State's closing argument. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS

         ¶2. On March 7, 2017, Officer Landon Marrs, was dispatched to a one-car accident in Pike County. The driver had wrecked the vehicle into a bridge. On his way to the accident, Officer Marrs spotted three men walking in the opposite direction of the scene. Upon arrival, the scene was abandoned. Officer Marrs suspected that the three men were involved, so once another officer arrived, Officer Marrs went searching for the three men. Officer Marrs approached the nearest house, which was in the same direction as the three men walking, and inquired about the accident to see if the driver was there. Moments later, Williams emerged from the house and admitted he had been the driver of the vehicle.

         ¶3. Officer Marrs needed to complete an accident report, so he escorted Williams and the other two men back to the scene. Officer Marrs testified that he smelled hints of marijuana and an intoxicating beverage on Williams, and the other officer, Allen Fry, agreed. The officers asked Williams about the smells. Williams admitted to drinking the night before and into the morning but attributed the marijuana smell to having been around others who were smoking marijuana earlier that day. Officer Fry testified that Williams was stuttering and mumbling and that he could not fully understand Williams's speech.

         ¶4. Officer Fry placed Williams under arrest for unrelated charges (driving with a suspended license, failure to keep a proper lane, and no insurance) but remained suspicious that Williams was driving under the influence. As a result, Officer Fry administered a field sobriety test at the Pike County Sheriff's Office. Williams's field sobriety test produced multiple clues for Officer Fry, who testified that Williams lost his balance and made several other mistakes during the field sobriety test. Because of those observations and what Officer Fry described as a "totality of the circumstance," Officer Fry charged Williams with DUI, which was Williams's fourth offense.

         ¶5. Williams consented to giving a urine sample to be tested for drugs and alcohol. At trial, John Stevenson of the Mississippi Forensics Laboratory, who had tested Williams's urine sample, was called to testify. On direct examination, the State questioned Stevenson on the test results:

[STATE]: Okay. And what controlled substances were in the defendant's-the sample that you tested?
[STEVENSON]: Screened positive for the cannabinoids, sir, which is marijuana and ...

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