693 So.2d 1333 (Miss. 1997), 94-KA-01097, Dunn v. State

Docket Nº:94-KA-01097-SCT.
Citation:693 So.2d 1333
Party Name:Gregory Todd DUNN v. STATE of Mississippi.
Case Date:May 15, 1997
Court:Supreme Court of Mississippi

Page 1333

693 So.2d 1333 (Miss. 1997)

Gregory Todd DUNN


STATE of Mississippi.

No. 94-KA-01097-SCT.

Supreme Court of Mississippi.

May 15, 1997

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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David O. Bell, Oxford, for appellant.

Michael C. Moore, Attorney General, DeWitt T. Allred, III, Special Asst. Atty. Gen., Jackson, for appellee.

Before PRATHER, P.J., and JAMES L. ROBERTS, Jr., and MILLS, JJ.

JAMES L. ROBERTS, Jr., Justice, for the Court:


Gregory Todd Dunn was tried in the Circuit Court of Calhoun County on a six-count indictment. He was charged with (1) murder, (2) aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, (3) aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, (4) aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, (5) aggravated assault, and (6) carrying a concealed weapon after conviction of a felony.

On August 9, 1994, the jury returned verdicts of guilty on Counts 1, 3, and 6; and not guilty on Counts 2, 4, and 5. The court, Honorable Henry L. Lackey, Circuit Judge, presiding, entered judgment and sentenced Dunn to a term of life imprisonment on Count 1, a term of thirty years imprisonment on Count 3, and a term of five years imprisonment on Count 6.

Dunn had court-appointed counsel with whom he would not cooperate. Due to this uncooperative conduct by Dunn, his attorneys requested the court to allow them to withdraw as Dunn's counsel. The court required the attorneys to remain with Dunn through the entire trial to serve as his assistants. However, the attorneys did much more than just sit at counsel table. They made an opening argument, examined witnesses, entered objections, and made a closing argument. The trial was conducted much like any other criminal trial. However, Dunn, aggrieved of the lower court's decision, appeals to this Court raising the following issue:



Dunn had been dating Regina Blanch, the victim, and she had been trying to end the relationship. On June 29, 1993, Dunn went to see her at her sister's house where she was living at the time. An altercation ensued outside the home when Dunn and Blanch began arguing. Blanch began to run into the house when Dunn pulled a .22 caliber pistol and started shooting. One shot was fired outside the home. Blanch tried to shut the door to prevent Dunn's entrance into the home, but he pushed his way into the home. He shot Blanch no less than five times in the back while she was lying on the floor just inside the doorway. She died as a result of the gunshots. Dunn then turned the gun on Tom Williams, who had given him a ride to Blanch's house, but the gun would not fire.

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Dunn left the scene of the crime and was tracked to a nearby wooded area by police officers and dogs from the North Mississippi Narcotics Unit. Dunn fired shots at the officers, and Officer Richard Erickson returned fire. Erickson's K-9 partner attacked Dunn as the shots were fired. Dunn was apprehended by the officers.

On November 30, 1993, the Calhoun County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Gregory Todd Dunn. The indictment contained six counts: Count 1 was for murder; Count 2 was for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer; Count 3 was for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer; Count 4 was for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer; Count 5 was for aggravated assault; Count 6 was for carrying a concealed deadly weapon.

Dunn was found to be indigent, and an attorney was appointed for him. That attorney was removed for reasons unimportant, and Robert Cooper was substituted as counsel. Dunn was first reported to the court as being uncooperative with his appointed attorney at his arraignment and hearing on bond. Dunn refused for Cooper to represent him and stated his intent to remain silent. Because of Dunn's unwillingness to cooperate, Cooper was not prepared to go forward with the trial. In fact, Cooper stated that Dunn would not discuss anything about the case with him. Dunn informed the court through Cooper that he did not wish for Cooper to represent him. Upon telling the judge at his arraignment hearing he intended to remain silent, the Honorable Kenneth Coleman instructed Dunn in the following manner:


You just remain silent and we'll bore right ahead then....Court strongly suggests to you and recommends to you that you discuss with Mr. Cooper your defense, your situation, whether you intend to get another lawyer or whatever he might be of any assistance to you. Court has appointed him for that purpose, and the case is going to trial, and the Court has it for this day certain. You can talk to Mr. Cooper; and if you need witnesses subpoenaed, this type thing, he's there to assist you. If you want to not talk to him, that's your privilege too.

We're going to go to trial; and the day it's tried if you tell me you don't want anybody to represent you; that you're going to remain silent, you can represent yourself or whatever you want to do; but Mr. Cooper is going to be at the counsel table with you. He will lend you any assistance you desire. He's available to do that at this time and will be.

But I'm not going to allow you to stand before this Court and by saying that you're going to remain silent, you're not going to manipulate the docket of this court; and you're certainly not going to manipulate me, so however you want to handle it; but Court has appointed you a lawyer; and if you desire not to make any use of it, that's your right and privilege. He's there available to you, very competent, very capable to help you and assist you.

As I told you before, I am not going to allow you to manipulate me and manipulate this docket. The case will be tried; so you can decide how you're going to handle it then now.

The State proceeded with Dunn's arraignment and attempted to serve him with a copy of the indictment.

THE COURT: Do you have a copy of the indictment you can hand to him and let him look it over.

MR. COOPER: I have a copy I obtained from the clerk, your Honor.

THE COURT: Hand him a copy of the indictment.

MR. DUNN: How can he represent me?

THE COURT: I'm asking him to hand you a copy of the indictment. If you don't want to take it, don't take it.

MR. DUNN: I refuse.

The indictment was then read by the court to the defendant. The judge asked the defendant how he pled, whereupon, Dunn replied, "I remain silent."

A hearing was conducted in order to determine whether bond should be set. Randy Tutor, investigator with the North Mississippi Narcotics Unit, was called to testify. During his direct testimony, Cooper entered an

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objection based on hearsay. Cooper then conducted cross-examination of Tutor. Bond was denied, and Dunn was transported to the Lafayette County jail.

In May of 1994, Cooper made a motion before the court for additional counsel to be appointed as a result of Dunn's repeated requests that Cooper not represent him. This order was granted on June 2, 1994. James Minor was added to Dunn's court-appointed defense team. However, Dunn refused to discuss the facts of the case with Minor and indicated that he did not want his representation. Minor filed a motion to be removed as defense counsel on July 15, 1994. The record is void of a ruling on the motion.

On August 8, 1994, the day the trial was set to begin, Minor filed a motion for mental examination. The motion stated that neither Minor nor Cooper believed Dunn to be incompetent to stand trial. However, the motion was made so the trial court could either order an examination or determine on its own the competency of Dunn to stand trial. Lastly, the motion made a request that Minor be discharged from...

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