358 N.W.2d 592 (Mich.App. 1984), 61305, People v. Brown

Docket Nº:Docket No. 61305.
Citation:358 N.W.2d 592, 137 Mich.App. 396
Opinion Judge:Before VJ BRENNANand SHEPHERD and QUINNELL, JJ
Party Name:PEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Sidney V. BROWN, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:September 17, 1984
Court:Court of Appeals of Michigan

Page 592

358 N.W.2d 592 (Mich.App. 1984)

137 Mich.App. 396

PEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Sidney V. BROWN, Defendant-Appellant.

Docket No. 61305.

Court of Appeals of Michigan.

September 17, 1984

Submitted Aug. 4, 1983.

Released for Publication Nov. 9, 1984.

Page 593

[137 Mich.App. 398] Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Louis J. Caruso, Sol. Gen., Conrad J. Sindt, Pros. Atty., and Michael J. Berezowsky, Asst. Prosecuting Atty. for the People.

James R. Neuhard State Appellate Defender by P.E. Bennett, Lansing, for defendant-appellant, on appeal.

Page 594

Before V.J. BRENNAN, P.J., and SHEPHERD and QUINNELL, [*] JJ.

V.J. BRENNAN, Presiding Judge.

Defendant-appellant, Sidney [137 Mich.App. 399] Brown, was charged with an open count of murder, M.C.L. Sec. 750.316; M.S.A. Sec. 28.548, for the death of Brenda Day, who died from a neck laceration. He was ultimately convicted of second-degree murder, M.C.L. Sec. 750.317; M.S.A. Sec. 28.549, after a six-day jury trial commencing on August 26, 1981, and ending on September 2, 1981. Defendant was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment and appeals as of right.

Defendant's first trial on the charge began on March 3, 1981. The trial lasted ten days and ended in a mistrial when the jurors were unable to reach a verdict.

Before the second trial, the prosecutor moved to endorse four witnesses who had not testified at the first trial. One witness requested was Beverly Mandoka, who was the complainant in another case against defendant. In the Mandoka case, defendant had been charged and convicted of assault with intent to murder for stabbing Mandoka on July 9, 1980, the evening before the instant offense. That conviction has been affirmed by this Court. After an evidentiary hearing on August 7, 1981, over defendant's objections, Mandoka was endorsed as a witness while the other proposed witnesses were not endorsed.

At defendant's second trial, defendant moved to dismiss the case for violation of the 180-day rule, M.C.L. Sec. 780.131; M.S.A. Sec. 28.969(1). The trial court denied defendant's motion to dismiss, finding that the people had "met the requirements of the statute by bringing it to trial within six months and by retrying it within six months of the time the first jury was discharged".

On July 9, 1980, the decedent, Day, was living with her cousin, Dianne Mandoka, in an apartment on Champion Street in Battle Creek. That [137 Mich.App. 400] evening, around 8:00 p.m., Day was in the Parkview Bar several blocks from her apartment when she met Victor Boone. Boone offered to buy her a drink and the two of them danced together. After Boone returned from a trip to the bathroom, he found defendant talking with Day at the bar. Defendant appeared angry and told Boone to wait until he got through talking with Day.

Boone and a friend, Jerome Watkins, left the bar and started walking. When they passed the apartment building on Champion Street they saw Day's roommate, Dianne Mandoka, sitting out on the porch and drinking with Francisco Lopez, so they walked up to the porch. Boone went inside the apartment to talk with the two little girls living there. Watkins stayed on the porch, but soon got into an argument with Lopez and left. Thereafter, one of the little girls came into the house and said, "My mother's out there bleeding". Boone testified that he went downstairs and saw Day lying on the ground. Dianne Mandoka had also gone downstairs to attend to Day. Boone also noticed defendant walking away from the scene. He and Francisco Lopez caught up to defendant, and Boone asked him why he cut the girl, to which defendant turned around and allegedly responded, "Do you want part of this?" Defendant had a bloody knife in his right hand. Boone then called the police and observed defendant enter the Hart Hotel a short distance away. Boone led the police into the hotel, struck defendant on the side of the face, and the police placed both Boone and defendant under arrest. Jerome Watkins was also arrested.

Dianne Mandoka testified that around 12:30 a.m. Lopez came over to the apartment. A couple of hours later, Watkins and Boone arrived and [137 Mich.App. 401] then defendant and Day came walking back to the apartment at about 2:30 a.m. Each was carrying a beer. Mandoka stated that defendant and Day were holding hands and laughing. Lopez also testified that the couple appeared to be having a good time together holding hands and laughing as they walked. When

Page 595

they walked up to the porch, Day sat on Lopez's lap and kissed his cheek. Defendant saw Boone through the apartment window and said to Day, "There's that Motherfucker you was dancin' with." Dianne Mandoka and Myra Day, the victim's niece, both testified that defendant asked Day to go downstairs so that he could talk to her. Lopez stated that defendant said he had to leave the apartment and Day could go with him if she wanted. Watkins testified that defendant told Day, "I'm tired of this shit. I want to talk to you." Watkins left and went to the Hart Hotel.

Defendant and Brenda Day walked downstairs together. Both Dianne Mandoka and Day's brother-in-law, Harold Morseau, who lived below them, stated that they heard Day say, "Quit, Sidney." Mandoka stood up and looked over the railing to see Day lying on the ground and defendant standing by her. She could see blood coming from the victim's left ear. She then went downstairs. According to Mandoka, Lopez asked defendant what he had done, to which defendant allegedly stated, "You can have her now." Lopez stated defendant answered, "Why don't you go and ask her."

Lopez testified that he came down the stairs and saw Day and defendant fighting with each other at the base of the steps. Lopez saw defendant hit Day once on the neck, and she immediately fell down, but he did not see anything in defendant's hand at this time. Lopez pursued defendant at the behest [137 Mich.App. 402] of Mandoka. Boone, who was also in the area, hollered to "watch out" because defendant had a knife. Lopez then noticed defendant did have a knife in his right hand. He went to his car and obtained a knife to follow defendant. Boone and Lopez followed defendant several blocks to the Hart Hotel. By this time, the police were right behind them. Battle Creek police officer Robert Baker testified that Boone accused defendant of stabbing Day. In reply, Baker stated that defendant said, "Yea, Motherfucker, I did and you're lucky it wasn't you." Officer Hattis testified to hearing a similar remark. The police subsequently arrested defendant and Boone. Outside they also arrested Jerome Watkins, who was carrying a meat cleaver in his sock. Watkins also had a .22-caliber automatic pistol in his pants, but discarded it before the police arrived.

Lopez took the police back to the apartment building to help Day. During the trip, he threw away the knife he was carrying. Police later found that knife and confronted Lopez with it. He admitted it was his. Defendant did not have any weapons on him when arrested, but a knife with human blood on it was found on the counter in the lobby of the Hart Hotel near where Boone and Lopez confronted him. Donald Krupp, a forensic scientist, ran tests on the two knives and meat cleaver. There was no trace of blood on Lopez's knife or the meat cleaver. The knife found on the counter contained type B human blood.

Paula Day, the victim's sister, stated that defendant and Brenda had lived together off and on, but had broken up a few weeks before the incident. Cheryl Morseau, another of the victim's sisters, testified similarly. She also testified that she was awakened around 2:30 a.m. on July 10, 1980, and [137 Mich.App. 403] then heard defendant exclaim to someone, "You can have her now," as he was walking away.

The pathologist who performed the autopsy, Dr. Malcolm Young, testified that Day had a laceration of the left side of the neck between the jaw and bony process of the skull. The wound was caused by a stabbing with a thin, sharp, instrument such as a knife, a piece of glass or even a thin piece of wood. The stab cut one or more of the blood vessels in the neck and caused Day to bleed to death. The cut on the neck was verticle, with "clean" or straight...

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