726 So.2d 1152 (Miss. 1998), 95-DP-00066, Manning v. State

Docket Nº95-DP-00066-SCT.
Citation726 So.2d 1152
Party NameWillie Jerome MANNING v. STATE of Mississippi.
Case DateJune 25, 1998
CourtSupreme Court of Mississippi

Page 1152

726 So.2d 1152 (Miss. 1998)

Willie Jerome MANNING

v.

STATE of Mississippi.

No. 95-DP-00066-SCT.

Supreme Court of Mississippi.

June 25, 1998

Rehearing Denied Oct. 8, 1998.

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Mark Williamson, Starkville, Clive A. Stafford Smith, New Orleans, Attorneys for Appellant.

Michael C. Moore, Attorney General, Marvin L. White, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., Leslie Staehle Lee, Special Asst. Atty. Gen., Jackson, Attorneys for Appellee.

EN BANC.

PITTMAN, Presiding Justice, for the Court:

¶1 Willie Jerome Manning was indicted during the July 1994 term of the Circuit Court of Oktibbeha County in a two count indictment: Count 1 for the capital murder of Jon Steckler while engaged in the commission of a robbery in violation of Miss.Code Ann. § 97-3-19(2)(e) (1994) and as being an habitual offender in violation of Miss.Code Ann. § 99-19-83 (1994); and Count 2 for the capital murder of Tiffany Miller while engaged in the commission of a robbery in violation of Miss.Code Ann. § 97-3-19(2)(e) (1994) and as being an habitual offender in violation of Miss.Code Ann. § 99-19-83 (1994). Manning was tried and convicted of both counts of capital murder. The trial court then conducted the habitual offender hearing and found Manning to be an habitual offender and subject to life without parole. Thereafter, the jury listened to evidence and argument in aggravation and mitigation of the sentence to be imposed. The jury returned two sentences of death by lethal injection. December 16, 1994 was set as the date of execution. A motion for j.n.o.v. or in the alternative, a new trial, was filed on November 18, 1994. An amended motion for j.n.o.v. or in the alternative, a new trial, was filed on December 13, 1994. Hearing was held on these motions on December 13, 1994, and they were denied. The execution of the death sentences was stayed pending appeal to this Court. Manning seeks review of twenty-one alleged errors by the trial court. Manning raises no issues warranting reversal, and the lower court's decision is affirmed. The issues presented on appeal are set out below as quoted from Manning's brief.

I. WILLIE MANNING WAS DENIED HIS RIGHT TO EFFECTIVE COUNSEL AT BOTH PHASES OF THE TRIAL.

  1. Lead defense counsel suffered from an obvious and highly prejudicial conflict of interest, exploited by the prosecution in front of the jury.

  2. The other defense counsel, Richard Burdine, failed to provide effective assistance of counsel to Willie Manning at the penalty phase.

    II. THE PROSECUTION WAS PERMITTED TO GET INTO THE DEFENDANT'S CHARACTER IN A WAY THAT WAS WHOLLY IMPROPER.

  3. The prosecution injected into the trial endless evidence that Willie Manning

    Page 1163

    was a criminal and generally evil person.

  4. The prosecution did not stop at Willie Manning's character, but violated the rules with respect to other defense actors as well.

    III. THE SHERIFF SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO GIVE A SPECULATIVE OPINION BASED ON INADEQUATE DATA REGARDING ULTIMATE ISSUES WITHIN THE JURY'S SOLE PREROGATIVE.

    IV. THE COURT DISPARAGED THE DEFENSE IN A MANNER THAT WAS WHOLLY INAPPROPRIATE.

    V. THE DEFENSE WAS IMPROPERLY LIMITED IN ITS IMPEACHMENT OF THE WITNESSES FOR THE PROSECUTION.

  5. The defense must be permitted to show that a prosecution witness could have been charged with several felonies rather than misdemeanors, to show that she received benefits for her testimony.

  6. The defense should have been allowed to question the State's chief investigator about the scope of his investigation.

    VI. THE RULES WERE SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT FOR THE PROSECUTION, WHICH WAS ALLOWED TO PRESENT EVIDENCE OF A LIE DETECTOR TEST AND OTHER UNRELIABLE EVIDENCE.

    VII. THE STATE PRESENTED EVIDENCE IN THE GUISE OF SCIENCE WITHOUT PROVING THAT ITS PROBATIVE VALUE OUTWEIGHED ITS EVIDENT PREJUDICIAL IMPACT.

  7. So-called "forensic hair analysis" is nothing but latter-day voodoo, and should not be allowed into the criminal courtroom.

  8. The statement made by the ballistics expert--that there could be no chance of a false match of ballistic evidence--is entirely beyond the scope of that expertise.

  9. Certainly, the sheriff should not have been allowed to testify to the ballistics test allegedly done by the F.B.I. in Washington, D.C.

    VIII. WILLIE MANNING WAS DENIED A FAIR TRIAL BECAUSE THE STATE ABUSED ITS PEREMPTORY CHALLENGES TO STRIKE BLACK JURORS IN VIOLATION OF BATSON V. KENTUCKY.

    IX. JURORS WERE EXCUSED IN VIOLATION OF WITHERSPOON V. ILLINOIS.

    X. JURORS PREDISPOSED AGAINST WILLIE MANNING SHOULD HAVE BEEN EXCUSED FOR CAUSE.

    XI. THE USE OF PERJURY CHARGES TO INTIMIDATE WITNESSES WHO TESTIFIED TO MATTERS WITH WHICH THE PROSECUTION DISAGREES IS INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL.

    XII. THE VIOLATION OF THE RULES OF DISCOVERY PREJUDICED WILLIE MANNING'S RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL.

    XIII. THE PHOTOGRAPHS USED AGAINST THE ACCUSED DENIED HIM A FAIR TRIAL.

    XIV. THE DEFENSE EVALUATION OF WILLIE MANNING SHOULD HAVE BEEN BY AN INDEPENDENT EXPERT AND SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN MADE A PART OF PUBLIC RECORD ACCESSIBLE TO THE PROSECUTION.

  10. The defense had the right to proceed ex parte on application for funds since the prosecutor has no business playing a role in the development of defense tactics.

  11. The defense was denied the right to meaningful investigative assistance.

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    XV. THE MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED WHEN THE GOVERNMENT MISREPRESENTED THE RELIABILITY OF ITS INFORMANT.

    XVI. THE FAILURE TO GIVE A CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE INSTRUCTION AT THE FIRST PHASE OF THE TRIAL VIOLATED MANNING'S RIGHTS.

    XVII. VARIOUS MOTIONS SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED PRIOR TO TRIAL.

    XVIII. THE CASE MUST BE REVERSED AND RENDERED SINCE THE EVIDENCE DOES NOT EXCLUDE THE REASONABLE POSSIBILITY THAT NO CRIME OCCURRED AT ALL IN THIS CASE.

    XIX. THE AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES IN THIS CASE WERE IMPROPERLY APPLIED.

  12. The aggravating circumstance of "especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel" as to Count I (Jon Steckler).

  13. The "kidnapping" aggravating circumstance as to both Counts.

  14. The "robbery" aggravating circumstance as to both Counts.

    XX. THE SENTENCING INSTRUCTIONS INADEQUATELY INSTRUCTED THE JURY ON THE MANNER IN WHICH THEY SHOULD CONSIDER MITIGATING AND AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES.

  15. The listing of only irrelevant mitigating circumstances.

  16. The denial of a life option instruction violated the eighth amendment.

    XXI. THE ACCUMULATION OF ERROR IN THIS CASE REQUIRES THAT THE DEATH SENTENCE MUST BE SET ASIDE.

    STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

    ¶2 The facts as reflected by the record in this case show that during the early morning hours of December 11, 1992, Tiffany Miller and Jon Steckler were both shot and murdered in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi. Tiffany and Jon were dating each other and were both students at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi. They were last seen alive leaving Jon's fraternity house between approximately 12:50 and 1:00 a.m. on December 11, 1992. Jon did not own a car but Tiffany drove a Toyota MR2 sports car. Tiffany lived off campus at University Hills Trailer Park.

    ¶3 Jon Steckler, lying in the right side of Pat Station Road in Oktibbeha County, was discovered by a motorist at approximately 2:15 a.m. that same morning. Sheriff Deputy Robert Elmore arrived on the scene at approximately 2:33 a.m. Jon still had a pulse and the deputy called for an ambulance. It was at this time the deputy also saw drag marks through the gravel road up into the woods on the side of the road where he discovered Tiffany's body. There was a large amount of blood on the road. Tiffany was found with one leg out of her pants and underwear, and with her shirt pulled up.

    ¶4 Tiffany had been shot twice in the face at close range, once in the left mid-forehead, and once around the mouth going through the lips. Either shot would have been fatal. Both projectiles were recovered from Tiffany's body. Jon's body had extensive abrasions which occurred prior to his death. Jon was shot once in the back of the head, which ultimately caused his death. The other injuries Jon received were consistent with being run over by a car at low speed. Neither body had any jewelry on it with the exception of a small silver fraternity medallion around Jon's neck.

    ¶5 At the murder scene, deputies discovered a gold token, three hulls or shell casings, and a projectile near to where Jon had been lying. The token was found between two large puddles of blood. Jon's wallet was still in his back pocket, but it did not contain any money. A set of car tracks went through the puddles of blood and had run over Jon Steckler.

    Page 1165

    ¶p 6 Tiffany Miller's car was found the next morning parked in front of some apartments on Old Mayhew Road. Blood was found on the car, under the car, on the sides of the car, as well as on the mud flaps and the spoiler. Hair and flesh were also found on the underside of the car. Some coins were found on the pavement by the driver's side door. Several more coins and a ring belonging to Tiffany were found about a hundred yards from the apartment complex driveway on the shoulder of Old Mayhew Road. These items were also approximately a hundred yards from Tiffany's residence at University Hills Trailer Park.

    ¶7 Around 11:00 p.m. the evening before the murder, a fraternity brother of Jon's, John Wise, loaned his car keys to his roommate so that he could retrieve a liter of Coke from Wise's car. Wise's car was parked outside the fraternity house. Approximately two and a half hours later, (1:30 a.m. on December 11, 1992), Wise went out to his car...

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  • 794 So.2d 1049 (Miss.App. 2001), 2000-KA-00242, Adams v. State
    • United States
    • Mississippi Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • 24 Abril 2001
    ...that Adams had opportunity, preparation, knowledge and identity all under very similar circumstances. M.R.E. 404(b); Manning v. State, 726 So.2d 1152 (Miss. 1998). Judge Lackey ruled that this testimony was not unfairly prejudicial. Page 1056 We agree and find that it was properly admitted.......
  • 300 So.3d 945 (Miss. 2020), 2017-DP-00504-SCT, Julio Garcia v. State
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 14 Mayo 2020
    ...(Miss. 1998). Jordan v. State, 728 So.2d 1088 (Miss. 1998). Gray v. State, 728 So.2d 36 (Miss. 1998). Manning v. State, 726 So.2d 1152 (Miss. Woodward v. State, 726 So.2d 524 (Miss. 1997). Bell v. State, 725 So.2d 836 (Miss. 1998), post-conviction relief grante......
  • 767 So.2d 246 (Miss.App. 2000), 97-KA-00436, Burroughs v. State
    • United States
    • Mississippi Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • 30 Mayo 2000
    ...shot and injured someone or whether the victim witnesses had a motive to lie. ¶ 14. Burroughs also cites the cases of Manning v. State, 726 So.2d 1152 (Miss. 1998) and Sanders v. State, 352 So.2d 822 (Miss. 1977). In Manning the State was permitted to cross-examine a defense witness about p......
  • 754 So.2d 497 (Miss.App. 1999), 97-KA-01625, Street v. State
    • United States
    • Mississippi Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • 21 Septiembre 1999
    ...that the circumstantial evidence presented by the State was sufficient to support a guilty verdict in this case. See Manning v. State, 726 So.2d 1152 (¶ 181) (Miss. 1998) overruled on other grounds. III. The Second Issue: Evidence of Gang Material Seized During Search of Street's Residence ......
  • Free signup to view additional results
98 cases
  • 794 So.2d 1049 (Miss.App. 2001), 2000-KA-00242, Adams v. State
    • United States
    • Mississippi Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • 24 Abril 2001
    ...that Adams had opportunity, preparation, knowledge and identity all under very similar circumstances. M.R.E. 404(b); Manning v. State, 726 So.2d 1152 (Miss. 1998). Judge Lackey ruled that this testimony was not unfairly prejudicial. Page 1056 We agree and find that it was properly admitted.......
  • 300 So.3d 945 (Miss. 2020), 2017-DP-00504-SCT, Julio Garcia v. State
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 14 Mayo 2020
    ...(Miss. 1998). Jordan v. State, 728 So.2d 1088 (Miss. 1998). Gray v. State, 728 So.2d 36 (Miss. 1998). Manning v. State, 726 So.2d 1152 (Miss. Woodward v. State, 726 So.2d 524 (Miss. 1997). Bell v. State, 725 So.2d 836 (Miss. 1998), post-conviction relief grante......
  • 767 So.2d 246 (Miss.App. 2000), 97-KA-00436, Burroughs v. State
    • United States
    • Mississippi Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • 30 Mayo 2000
    ...shot and injured someone or whether the victim witnesses had a motive to lie. ¶ 14. Burroughs also cites the cases of Manning v. State, 726 So.2d 1152 (Miss. 1998) and Sanders v. State, 352 So.2d 822 (Miss. 1977). In Manning the State was permitted to cross-examine a defense witness about p......
  • 754 So.2d 497 (Miss.App. 1999), 97-KA-01625, Street v. State
    • United States
    • Mississippi Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • 21 Septiembre 1999
    ...that the circumstantial evidence presented by the State was sufficient to support a guilty verdict in this case. See Manning v. State, 726 So.2d 1152 (¶ 181) (Miss. 1998) overruled on other grounds. III. The Second Issue: Evidence of Gang Material Seized During Search of Street's Residence ......
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