121 So.3d 808 (Miss. 2013), 2010-DP-00510-SCT, Batiste v. State

Docket Nº:2010-DP-00510-SCT.
Citation:121 So.3d 808
Opinion Judge:CHANDLER, Justice.
Party Name:Bobby BATISTE a/k/a Bobby L. Batiste a/k/a Bobby L. Batiste, Jr. a/k/a Bobby Lionel Batiste, Jr. a/k/a Bobby Lionel Batiste v. STATE of Mississippi.
Attorney:Office of State Public Defender by Alison R. Steiner, James Lappan, Andre De Gruy, attorneys for appellant. Office of the Attorney General by Jason L. Davis, Marvin L. White, Jr., attorneys for appellee.
Judge Panel:WALLER, C.J., RANDOLPH, P.J., PIERCE AND COLEMAN, JJ., CONCUR. LAMAR J., CONCURS IN PART AND IN RESULT WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION. KITCHENS, J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION JOINED BY DICKINSON, P.J., AND KING, J. KITCHENS, Justice, dissenting: DICKINSON, P.J., AND KING, J., JOIN ...
Case Date:May 16, 2013
Court:Supreme Court of Mississippi
 
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121 So.3d 808 (Miss. 2013)

Bobby BATISTE a/k/a Bobby L. Batiste a/k/a Bobby L. Batiste, Jr. a/k/a Bobby Lionel Batiste, Jr. a/k/a Bobby Lionel Batiste

v.

STATE of Mississippi.

No. 2010-DP-00510-SCT.

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc.

May 16, 2013

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Office of State Public Defender by Alison R. Steiner, James Lappan, Andre De Gruy, attorneys for appellant.

Office of the Attorney General by Jason L. Davis, Marvin L. White, Jr., attorneys for appellee.

CHANDLER, Justice.

¶ 1. Bobby Batiste was convicted of capital murder with the underlying felony of robbery for the slaying of his roommate, Andreas Galanis. After a sentencing hearing, the jury determined that Batiste should suffer the death penalty. The Circuit Court of Oktibbeha County denied Batiste's post-trial motions. Now Batiste has appealed, raising fifteen assignments of error. After carefully reviewing the record and Batiste's arguments, we find that no reversible error occurred. Therefore, we affirm Batiste's conviction and sentence.

FACTS

¶ 2. Batiste, Galanis, and Jaewoo Joo were Mississippi State University students who shared an apartment at Ace 21 Apartments, an apartment complex in Starkville, Mississippi. Their apartment had four bedrooms situated off a common area that included a dining area, living room, kitchen, and laundry area. Each tenant had a key that opened the front door of the apartment and that particular tenant's bedroom door.

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Events of March 6, 2008

¶ 3. The following events culminated in Deputy Charlie McVey's discovery of Galanis's body inside the shared apartment. On March 6, 2008, at about 1:30 or 1:40 p.m., Galanis and Batiste went to a branch of the Merchants and Farmers Bank in Starkville. A teller, Aloysius Rice, waited on Galanis, who had a checking account at the bank. Galanis cashed a $200 check and asked Rice for the balance on his account. Rice gave Galanis a one-hundred-dollar bill and five twenty-dollar bills. Rice noticed that there were a lot of debit-card transactions on the account. Rice testified that Galanis was shocked about the debit-card transactions because he did not use his debit card. Rice testified that Batiste seemed very concerned and empathetic.

¶ 4. Galanis spoke with Candace Dailey, a customer-service representative, about the unauthorized debit-card transactions. Dailey testified that Galanis and Batiste sat across from her desk; they were elbow to elbow. Galanis told her someone was taking money out of his account, he had never activated his debit card, and his debit card was in his apartment in a box. After Dailey reported Galanis's debit card as stolen, Dailey and Galanis went over the transactions together and discovered that the total amount missing from Galanis's account was $4,507.54. Dailey testified that Batiste was behaving like a supportive friend. Galanis left to go to class but promised to return.

¶ 5. Dailey and Rice testified that Galanis returned briefly with a young Asian man and again discussed the unauthorized debit-card transactions. 1 At 3:30 p.m., Galanis returned alone and waited to talk to Dailey, who was with another customer. A teller, Shannon Watson, observed that Galanis was agitated. Galanis told Dailey that Batiste had admitted that his girlfriend had been using Galanis's debit card. Galanis had demanded that Batiste return the money by tomorrow, but Batiste had responded that that was impossible. Galanis told Dailey he wanted to file a police report and press charges, and he left the bank just after 4:00 p.m.

¶ 6. Watson testified that, when she left the bank for the day at about 4:10 or 4:15 p.m., she observed Galanis and Batiste in the parking lot having a heated argument. Each was standing next to his parked car, and a cement barrier was between the cars. Watson said Galanis was speaking loudly and exhibited angry body language, and Batiste was listening.

¶ 7. Rice testified that Batiste returned to the bank lobby between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 pm. and asked how long the bank kept ATM video images. When Rice responded that the images are kept for up to a year, he heard Batiste say, " Dog."

¶ 8. Deputy Steven Woodruff of the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Department testified that, at about 5:00 p.m., Galanis made a complaint at the sheriff's department to the effect that he had noticed money missing from his checking account.

Events of March 7, 2008

¶ 9. The next day, March 7, 2008, was the Friday before spring break. Galanis's mother testified that Galanis had planned to drive home to Biloxi, and then fly to Florida for a spring-break trip. When she did not hear from Galanis, she called the Oktibehha County Sheriff's Department and asked for a deputy to go to Ace 21 Apartments to check on him. That afternoon, shortly before 5:00 p.m., McVey

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went to Ace 21 Apartments in response to the call.

¶ 10. McVey testified that, when he arrived at Galanis's building, many students were packing up and leaving for spring break. Batiste was standing next to a green Ford Explorer that was backed up to the sidewalk in front of the building. The Explorer's rear hatch door was open. McVey told Batiste that he was there to check on Galanis. Batiste, who was smiling and seemed to be in a good mood, said " well, that's my roommate." Batiste told McVey that Galanis had left that morning with a friend, who was going to drive him to Biloxi. Batiste pointed to Galanis's car, and said that it was broken down.

¶ 11. McVey called the sheriff's department to report what he had learned, and was instructed to check the apartment physically for Galanis. McVey knocked on the door of the apartment, and Batiste let him in. It was very dim inside. McVey asked Batiste which bedroom belonged to Galanis, and Batiste pointed out Bedroom D, which was locked. McVey called the apartment's office to get a key. He observed that Batiste was acting normally.

¶ 12. When McVey arrived at the office, Batiste abruptly pulled up in his Explorer. McVey asked Batiste to wait and let him back into the apartment. Batiste asked, " Am I a suspect?" McVey said " no," that he was there to locate Galanis. After McVey got the key, Batiste sped back to the apartment. When McVey arrived, Batiste let him inside the apartment. With Batiste standing behind him, McVey unlocked the door to Bedroom D. He immediately saw a large pool of blood at the end of the bed. McVey testified that, at that point, he knew that everything Batiste had told him was a lie. He placed Batiste under arrest and called for backup.

¶ 13. Deputies Ford and West arrived and opened the door of Bedroom B, the unrented bedroom. They discovered the body of Galanis wrapped in blankets inside a wheelbarrow. Search warrants were obtained for Batiste's apartment, vehicle, and person. Batiste was transported to the Oktibehha County Hospital, where Casey Hill, a registered nurse, took samples from his body and prepared a kit. Hill noticed no injuries on Batiste, but he had a blood spot on his leg.

Autopsy

¶ 14. Forensic pathologist Dr. Stephen Hayne testified that the autopsy revealed that Galanis had sustained approximately thirty-six separate external injuries inflicted with a blunt object. The cause of death was cranial cerebral trauma. Galanis's face was severely bruised and abraded from numerous instances of blunt-force trauma. He had been struck numerous times in the face and head, and his hands had injuries consistent with defensive posturing. A blow to the upper left scalp had fractured Galanis's skull. He had sustained multiple fractures to the left side of the skull and to the base of the skull. His right orbital plate was fractured, and he had severe trauma to the brain.

Batiste's Statements

¶ 15. After his arrest, Batiste gave two statements at the sheriff's department. He gave the first statement to Sheriff Dolph Bryan and Deputy Arthur Sallis. Bryan advised Batiste of his rights and Batiste signed a rights-waiver form. Batiste said that he was a criminal-justice major and he understood his rights and wanted to waive them. Batiste related his version of events to Bryan, who wrote down what Batiste said, then read it back to him and allowed him to make corrections. Batiste read and signed each page of the written statement, and Bryan and Sallis signed each page.

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¶ 16. Batiste's two statements were similar. According to the first statement, Batiste had used Galanis's debit card with his permission, except for two charges. He stated that, the night before, he and Galanis had reached an agreement for Batiste to repay the money. Batiste had stayed at his girlfriend's house that night. When he returned the next morning, Galanis became angry about the missing funds. Galanis came into his room, " got in [his] face," and hit his arm. Galanis threatened to get a gun and shoot Batiste in the head. Then, Galanis took Batiste's katana sword, pointed it at Batiste, and called him a " black bitch." Galanis said " f— you" and jabbed the sword at Batiste, before retreating into his own room with Batiste's sword. Batiste got his rim adaptor 2 out of his Explorer, put it...

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