Chase v. State, No. 90-DP-0515

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtSMITH; HAWKINS; BANKS, J., dissents with separate written opinion joined by SULLIVAN; BANKS; SULLIVAN
Citation645 So.2d 829
PartiesRicky CHASE v. STATE of Mississippi.
Docket NumberNo. 90-DP-0515
Decision Date24 February 1994

Page 829

645 So.2d 829
Ricky CHASE
v.
STATE of Mississippi.
No. 90-DP-0515.
Supreme Court of Mississippi.
Feb. 24, 1994.
Rehearing Denied Dec. 8, 1994.

Page 833

M.A. Bass, Jr., Hazlehurst, James W. Craig, Andre de Gruy, Jackson, for appellant.

Michael C. Moore, Atty. Gen., Marvin L. White, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., Charlene R. Pierce, Jeffrey A. Klingfuss, Sp. Asst. Attys. Gen., Jackson, for appellee.

Page 834

EN BANC

SMITH, Justice, for the Court:

Ricky Chase was indicted on November 10, 1989, for the murder of Elmer Hart while Chase was engaged in the crime of robbery. He was tried by a jury in the Circuit Court of Copiah County, found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to death.

Chase now appeals and assigns the following as error:

GUILT PHASE

I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ALLOWING THE STATEMENT OF THE DEFENDANT TO BE ADMITTED INTO EVIDENCE IN VIOLATION OF THE FIFTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AS WELL AS ARTICLE THREE, SECTIONS 14 AND 26 OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION.

II. THE STATE INTENTIONALLY STRUCK AFRICAN-AMERICANS AND WOMEN FROM THE JURY IN THIS CASE IN VIOLATION OF THE SIXTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND STATE LAW.

III. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN EXCUSING JURORS FOR CAUSE IN VIOLATION OF MISSISSIPPI LAW AND THE SIXTH, EIGHTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS TO THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION.

IV. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN EXCUSING JURORS FOLLOWING DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN THE COURT AND PROSPECTIVE JURORS OUTSIDE THE PRESENCE OF THE DEFENDANT.

V. THE COURT'S REFUSAL TO REMOVE A JUROR FOR CAUSE DENIED RICKY CHASE A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL TRIAL IN VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE CONSTITUTION AND LAW OF MISSISSIPPI.

VI. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING INDIVIDUAL SEQUESTERED VOIR DIRE.

VII. THE INACCURATE RESPONSE BY A JUROR TO A DIRECT, UNAMBIGUOUS QUESTION REGARDING HER KNOWLEDGE OF THIS CASE AND UNAMBIGUOUS OPINIONS OF GUILT AND SENTENCE VIOLATED CHASE'S RIGHT PURSUANT STATE LAW, ARTICLE 3, SECTION 14 AND 26 OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION AND THE FIFTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.

VIII. THE IMPERMISSIBLE DISPLAY OF EMOTIONS DURING THE TESTIMONY OF MRS. HART VIOLATED STATE LAW AND DEPRIVED RICKY CHASE OF A FUNDAMENTALLY FAIR TRIAL.

IX. THE ADMISSION OF GRUESOME PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE DECEASED VIOLATED RULE 403 OF THE MISSISSIPPI RULES OF EVIDENCE AND THE STATE AND FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONS.

X. THE ADMISSION OF OTHER CRIMES OR BAD ACTS EVIDENCE VIOLATED CHASE'S RIGHTS PURSUANT TO MISSISSIPPI LAW AND THE EIGHTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.

XI. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE PROPOSED DEFENSE INSTRUCTION IN THE BURDEN OF PROOF AT THE FIRST PHASE OF THE TRIAL.

XII. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE PROPOSED DEFENSE INSTRUCTION ON ACCESSORY AFTER THE FACT.

XIII. THE TRIAL COURT'S INSTRUCTION TO THE JURY ON THE MANNER OF ITS DELIBERATIONS WAS UNDULY COERCIVE, IN VIOLATION OF THE STATE AND FEDERAL DUE PROCESS CLAUSES, IN THAT IT FORBADE ANY CONSIDERATION OF THE LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSES UNTIL AND UNLESS THE JURY HAD

Page 835

UNANIMOUSLY AGREED TO ACQUIT CHASE OF THE GREATER CHARGE.
SENTENCING PHASE

XIV. THE EVIDENCE OF CULPABILITY WAS SKEWED IN FAVOR OF THE STATE BY PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT AND TRIAL COURT ERROR.

XV. THE SUBMISSION OF THE AVOIDING ARREST AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE VIOLATED MISSISSIPPI LAW, ARTICLE III, SECTION 14 AND 26 OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION, AND THE EIGHTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.

XVI. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ALLOWING THE JURY TO CONSIDER THE "PECUNIARY GAIN" AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE.

XVII. THE INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN RICKY CHASE'S JURY IMPERMISSIBLY LIMITED THE CONSIDERATION OF MITIGATION EVIDENCE.

XVIII. THE INSTRUCTIONS AT THE SENTENCING PHASE FAILED TO GUIDE THE JURY'S DISCRETION AS REQUIRED BY ARTICLE 3, SECTION 28 OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION AND THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.

XIX. THE AGGREGATE ERROR IN THIS CASE REQUIRES REVERSAL OF THE CONVICTION AND DEATH SENTENCE.

XX. THIS COURT SHOULD FIND THAT THE DEATH PENALTY IS A DISPROPORTIONATE PENALTY HERE WHEN COMPARED WITH OTHER CAPITAL CASES GIVEN THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CRIME AND THE CHARACTER AND HISTORY OF THE DEFENDANT.

Chase has also filed for consideration a supplemental brief in which he reargues issues I, IV, V, XVI and the following issue, which will be discussed with issue XVI:

THE SUBMISSION OF THE "ROBBERY" AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE AT THE SENTENCING PHASE OF RICKY CHASE'S TRIAL VIOLATED THE EIGHTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AND ARTICLE 3 Sec. 28 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF 1890.

Although Chase puts forth many arguments for reversal, the majority of the issues were not initially raised in the lower court or brought to the court's attention by appropriate timely objection. This Court has repeatedly held that "[i]f no contemporaneous objection is made, the error, if any, is waived. This rule's applicability is not diminished in a capital case." Cole v. State, 525 So.2d 365, 369 (Miss.1987), cert. denied 488 U.S. 934, 109 S.Ct. 330, 102 L.Ed.2d 348 (1988); Irving v. State, 498 So.2d 305 (Miss.1986), cert. denied, 481 U.S. 1042, 107 S.Ct. 1986, 95 L.Ed.2d 826 (1987); Johnson v. State, 477 So.2d 196 (Miss.1985), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1109, 106 S.Ct. 1958, 90 L.Ed.2d 366 (1986); In re Hill, 460 So.2d 792 (Miss.1984); Hill v. State, 432 So.2d 427 (Miss.1983), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 977, 104 S.Ct. 414, 78 L.Ed.2d 352 (1983).

Although the procedural bar is sufficient, this Court also, alternatively, looks to the merits of the underlying claim knowing that any subsequent review will stand on the bar alone. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has addressed this issue in Sawyers v. Collins, 986 F.2d 1493, 1499 (5th Cir.1993), stating: "on application for the writ of habeas corpus, federal courts will not review a state court's holding on a federal law claim-such as Sawyers' Penry claim--if that holding rests upon a state law ground which is both independent of the merits of the federal claim and adequate to support the state court's judgment." See also Harris v. Reed, 489 U.S. 255, 260-63, 109 S.Ct. 1038, 1042-43, 103 L.Ed.2d 308 (1989), wherein, the United States Supreme Court stated:

Consequently, "[w]hen a state-law default prevents the state court from reaching the merits of a federal claim, that claim can ordinarily not be reviewed in federal court." Citing Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501

Page 836

U.S. 797, ----, 111 S.Ct. 2590, 2593, 115 L.Ed.2d 706 (1991) (citing Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 87-88, 97 S.Ct. 2497, 2506-07, 53 L.Ed.2d 594 (1977); Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 485-92, 106 S.Ct. 2639, 2643-48, 91 L.Ed.2d 397 (1986).

Furthermore, where a state court finds that a federal claim is procedurally barred, but goes on to reach the merits of that claim in the alternative, the state court's reliance on the procedural default still constitutes an independent and adequate state ground which bars federal habeas review. 1

Further, the United States Supreme Court in Caldwell v. Mississippi, 472 U.S. 320, 105 S.Ct. 2633, 86 L.Ed.2d 231 (1985), stated:

The mere existence of a basis for a state procedural bar does not deprive this Court of jurisdiction; the state court must actually have relied on the procedural bar as an independent basis for its disposition of the case ...

If the state court decision indicates clearly and expressly that it is alternatively based on bona fide separate, adequate, and independent grounds, we, of course, will not undertake to review the decision ...

An examination of the decision below reveals that it contains no clear or express indication that "separate, adequate, and independent" state-law grounds were the basis for the court's judgment ...

472 U.S. at 327, 105 S.Ct. at 2638, 86 L.Ed.2d at 238.

These assignments, which were not properly presented to the trial court by contemporaneous objection, will be procedurally barred from consideration. We have carefully considered the remaining issues and found them to be without merit. Chase's conviction and sentence will be affirmed.

THE FACTS

On the morning of August 14, 1989, Elmer Hart gathered vegetables and left home to sell them. Hart and his wife Doris lived on Norman Road outside of Hazlehurst. They were both sixty-seven years old and had been married for forty-nine years.

Ricky Chase and Robert Washington were both twenty years old and had known each other since Washington moved to Hazlehurst five or six years earlier.

About 9:30 a.m., Elmer Hart went by the house where Robert Washington lived with his wife and two children. Mr. Hart talked to Terry Washington, Robert's wife. Soon after, Washington left home and stopped by Ricky Chase's house. According to Washington, they started talking about Mr. Hart, and Chase said that Mr. Hart had some money. Chase and Washington talked about going to Mr. Hart's house and "to get some money off of Mr. Hart." They took a bottle of ammonia and left in Washington's Camaro.

Around eleven o'clock, Doris Hart went outside onto the carport and was surprised by a black man, later identified as Washington, who grabbed her and held an ammonia soaked towel over her face. Ricky Chase assisted Washington in tying up and blindfolding Mrs. Hart and carrying her into the house. Mrs. Hart never saw Chase.

Once inside, the two men pulled the phones out of the wall and began ransacking the house looking for valuables. One of the men kept asking "where's the money." During the search the men found some jewelry, a .12 gauge shotgun, a .22 rifle and a .30-.30 rifle. After persistent demands to know where the money was kept, Mrs. Hart finally told the men where her purse was with $400 inside. One of the men found bullets for a .38 pistol and began demanding "where's the .38, where's the .38." Mrs. Hart told him that the gun was...

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275 practice notes
  • Edmonds v. State, No. 2004-CT-02081-SCT (Miss. 1/4/2007), No. 2004-CT-02081-SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
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    ...have been given voluntarily and not given because of promises, threats or inducements. Morgan[, 681 So. 2d at 86] (citing Chase v. State, 645 So. 2d 829, 838-39 (Miss. 1994)). `The prosecution shoulders the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the confession was voluntary.' Morg......
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  • Flowers v. State, NO. 2010–DP–01348–SCT
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    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
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    ...So.3d at 650 ; Chamberlin v. State , 989 So.2d 320, 345 (Miss. 2008) ; Doss v. State , 709 So.2d 369, 401 (Miss. 1997) ; Chase v. State , 645 So.2d 829, 836–37 (Miss. 1994) ). Further, the Court has upheld the imposition of the death penalty in cases involving multiple victims. See Manning ......
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