OF JUDGMENT: 06/12/2018
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:
BARNES, C.J., McDONALD AND LAWRENCE, JJ.
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,
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.
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
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.
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
[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 ...