767 So.2d 246 (Miss.App. 2000), 97-KA-00436, Burroughs v. State

Docket Nº97-KA-00436-COA.
Citation767 So.2d 246
Party NameWilliam BURROUGHS a/k/a William Burroughs, IV a/k/a 'Buck', Appellant, v. STATE of Mississippi, Appellee.
Case DateMay 30, 2000
CourtCourt of Appeals of Mississippi

Page 246

767 So.2d 246 (Miss.App. 2000)

William BURROUGHS a/k/a William Burroughs, IV a/k/a 'Buck', Appellant,

v.

STATE of Mississippi, Appellee.

No. 97-KA-00436-COA.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi.

May 30, 2000.

Page 247

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 248

William B. Kirksey, Merrida Coxwell, Charles Richard Mullins, Jackson, Attorneys for Appellant.

Office of the Attorney General by Billy L. Gore, Attorney for Appellee.

BEFORE McMILLIN, C.J., IRVING, AND THOMAS, JJ.

IRVING, J.

¶ 1. William Burroughs, IV, a/k/a "Buck", was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of simple assault in the Circuit Court of Bolivar County and was sentenced to serve fifteen years on the aggravated assault charges with five years suspended after service of ten years in the custody of Mississippi Department of Corrections. He was sentenced to serve six months on the simple assault convictions with the sentences to run concurrently with the sentences imposed on the aggravated assault convictions. He appeals those convictions and sentences and assigns as error the following issues which are taken verbatim from his brief:

I. THE TRIAL JUDGE COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY FORBIDDING THE DEFENSE FROM ELICITING TESTIMONY THAT THE PIKES REFERRED TO THE LOCAL MEN AS GDI; THE TRIAL JUDGE ALSO ERRED BY EXCLUDING TESTIMONY THAT THE PIKES WERE ON PROBATION.

II. THE TRIAL JUDGE ERRED BY NOT ORDERING A NEW TRIAL AFTER IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT TWO OF THE VICTIMS WORKED FOR ONE OF THE JURORS.

III. THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED BY THE STATE WAS INSUFFICIENT TO SUPPORT THE CONVICTIONS. IN THE ALTERNATIVE, THE JURY'S VERDICT WAS AGAINST THE OVERWHELMING WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE.

Finding error, we reverse and remand.

Facts

¶ 2. During the early morning hours of January 21, 1996, Scotty Harrison and Burroughs, by pre-arrangement, drove to Treeline Road in Bolivar County to rendezvous with Jay Weaver, a student at Delta State University, and other members of Weaver's college fraternity known as "Pikes".

¶ 3. During the evening of January 20, Harrison and Weaver had been involved in a barroom brawl at a local nightclub. Weaver had phoned Harrison following the altercation with a challenge to meet on Treeline Road to settle the prior dispute. Harrison accepted the challenge. Harrison then phoned Burroughs and asked Burroughs to accompany him. Burroughs and Harrison rode together in Burroughs's car. They were the first to arrive at the meeting place. It was approximately 3:00 a.m. A .270 rifle and a .44 Magnum pistol, both belonging to Burroughs, were in the car. Both Harrison and Burroughs exited the car.

¶ 4. A short time later a Toyota truck occupied by A. J. Willen, Brian Johnson, Jeremy Dyess, and Kevin Wooten arrived at the Treeline Road location. Another group of Pikes followed in a Jeep Cherokee. Shots were fired. Willen was struck in the arm and knee by one bullet, and another bullet grazed Johnson's back. Dyess and Wooten were not injured. Both vehicles left the scene immediately following the shooting.

¶ 5. Both Harrison and Burroughs admit firing weapons at the time but claim that the Pikes fired weapons first. Harrison claims to have fired the .44 Magnum into the air. The Pikes claimed that none of them were in possession of any weapons.

¶ 6. Billy Joe Estes, chief investigator with the Bolivar County Sheriff's Office, testified that he took a statement from

Page 249

Burroughs the next morning which was recorded on audiotape and transcribed. Burroughs signed the transcript of the tape. The original audiotape was played in the presence of the jury and reflects that Burroughs admitted he fired a .270 rifle "down the road" at the time and location of the incident.

Analysis of Issues Presented

I. Exclusion of testimony

¶ 7. The standard of review regarding admission or exclusion of evidence is abuse of discretion. Thompson Mach. Commerce Corp. v. Wallace, 687 So.2d 149, 152 (Miss. 1997). Where error involves the admission or exclusion of evidence, this Court will not reverse unless the error adversely affects a substantial right of a party. In re Estate of Mask, 703 So.2d 852, 859 (Miss. 1997); Terrain Enters., Inc. v. Mockbee, 654 So.2d 1122, 1131 (Miss. 1995).

¶ 8. Burroughs alleges that it was reversible error for the trial court to exclude evidence that would have allowed him to establish the Pikes' motive to lie about being in possession of a weapon or weapons. Burroughs alleges the motive was that the fraternity was on probation for past misconduct and that an admission by some of its members that they were in possession of firearms in violation of university policy would have resulted in its charter being revoked. He also alleges that it was reversible error for the trial court to exclude evidence which would have established the Pikes' animosity toward non-fraternity students. Burroughs claims that the Pike fraternity chapter located at Delta State University had obvious disdain for the local young men of Cleveland who were not college attendees as evidenced by the fact that the Pikes referred to the locals as "GDIs", which means "g--d--- independents."

¶ 9. In making its decision to exclude the testimony the lower court ruled as follows:

BY THE COURT: All right. Well, the Court will allow you to introduce all matters that are relevant and pertinent to this particular incident, but the Court does not deem the fact that that fraternity may have been on probation to be a probative value in this particular case. If it had been the other way around, I could see the defense arguing the prejudicial affect is outweighed by any probative value that there may be. And as we have already told the jurors, we have to be fair to the State as well as being fair to the defense. So the Court is going to disallow the usage of the term "GDI" and the allegation that the fraternity was on probation.

¶ 10. It is apparent that the lower court found that the Pikes' probation and apparent disdain for the locals had no probative value with regard to the material facts to be proven in this case. This Court agrees. Burroughs contends that the phrase GDI was crucial to his defense in that if the jury had been allowed to hear evidence of the Pikes's animosity toward the local non-college young men, "then a reasonable juror could easily infer how and why the Pikes would flavor their testimony against Scotty Harrison and Mr. Burroughs." The trial judge's ruling, claims Burroughs, crippled his defense. He...

To continue reading

Request your trial
7 practice notes
  • 986 So.2d 1042 (Miss.App. 2008), 2006-KA-01970, Bright v. State
    • United States
    • Mississippi Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • March 4, 2008
    ...246(13) (Miss.Ct.App.2000). Whether “ bodily injury" or “ serious bodily injury" resulted is a question for the jury. Odom, 767 So.2d at 246(13). ¶ 25. Bright cites Taylor v. State, 577 So.2d 381, 383-84 (Miss.1991) as controlling authority. In Taylor, the defendant was charged wi......
  • Sewell v. State, 112918 MDSCA, 2183-2016
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • November 29, 2018
    ...was unlawful. Id. at 608. [9] Two cases from the Mississippi Court of Appeals are instructive. Compare Burroughs v. State, 767 So.2d 246, 250 (Miss. Ct. App. 2000) (concluding that membership in a fraternity alone, without regard to an individual member's motive to ......
  • 984 So.2d 352 (Miss.App. 2007), 2006-KA-01170, Dao v. State
    • United States
    • Mississippi Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • December 11, 2007
    ...evidence is inadmissible for all purposes. ¶ 28. Dao next directs our attention to this Court's decision in Burroughs v. State, 767 So.2d 246 (Miss.Ct.App.2000). In Burroughs, William Burroughs was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of simple assault after he and t......
  • 108 So.3d 980 (Miss.App. 2012), 2011-CA-00961-COA, Circus Circus Mississippi, Inc. v. Cushing
    • United States
    • Mississippi Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • September 11, 2012
    ...test, the Odom court reversed the judgment and sentence and remanded the case for a new trial. Id. at 1383. ¶ 12. In Burroughs v. State, 767 So.2d 246, 250 (¶ 16) (Miss.Ct.App.2000), several questions were asked during voir dire regarding whether any prospective juror knew any of the witnes......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • 986 So.2d 1042 (Miss.App. 2008), 2006-KA-01970, Bright v. State
    • United States
    • Mississippi Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • March 4, 2008
    ...246(13) (Miss.Ct.App.2000). Whether “ bodily injury" or “ serious bodily injury" resulted is a question for the jury. Odom, 767 So.2d at 246(13). ¶ 25. Bright cites Taylor v. State, 577 So.2d 381, 383-84 (Miss.1991) as controlling authority. In Taylor, the defendant was charged wi......
  • Sewell v. State, 112918 MDSCA, 2183-2016
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • November 29, 2018
    ...was unlawful. Id. at 608. [9] Two cases from the Mississippi Court of Appeals are instructive. Compare Burroughs v. State, 767 So.2d 246, 250 (Miss. Ct. App. 2000) (concluding that membership in a fraternity alone, without regard to an individual member's motive to ......
  • 984 So.2d 352 (Miss.App. 2007), 2006-KA-01170, Dao v. State
    • United States
    • Mississippi Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • December 11, 2007
    ...evidence is inadmissible for all purposes. ¶ 28. Dao next directs our attention to this Court's decision in Burroughs v. State, 767 So.2d 246 (Miss.Ct.App.2000). In Burroughs, William Burroughs was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of simple assault after he and t......
  • 108 So.3d 980 (Miss.App. 2012), 2011-CA-00961-COA, Circus Circus Mississippi, Inc. v. Cushing
    • United States
    • Mississippi Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • September 11, 2012
    ...test, the Odom court reversed the judgment and sentence and remanded the case for a new trial. Id. at 1383. ¶ 12. In Burroughs v. State, 767 So.2d 246, 250 (¶ 16) (Miss.Ct.App.2000), several questions were asked during voir dire regarding whether any prospective juror knew any of the witnes......
  • Request a trial to view additional results