Fairchild v. State

Decision Date07 November 1984
Docket NumberNo. 55158,55158
Citation459 So.2d 793
PartiesRoger FAIRCHILD v. STATE of Mississippi.
CourtMississippi Supreme Court

Leon Mangum, W.H. Johnson, Jr., Decatur, for appellant.

Edwin Lloyd Pittman, Atty. Gen. by Carolyn B. Mills, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Jackson, for appellee.

Before ROY NOBLE LEE, P.J., and DAN M. LEE and ROBERTSON, JJ.

ROBERTSON, Justice, for the Court:

I.

This case has exposed to us a slice of life we seldom encounter. A ne'er do well, a dope addict and a drifter--none of whose life experiences had been characterized by excessive regard for the norms and mores of society--met by chance and for a few days pursued a drunken odyssey across the Southern United States. One died a violent death in Newton County, Mississippi. The other two, including the Appellant Roger Fairchild, now reside at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman under life sentences.

Our law has no less regard for the life of Joe T. Davis because he was a friendless drunk. One falls within the protections of our homicide statutes because he or she is a human being--nothing else is required. Nor are Timothy Lee Dickson and Roger Fairchild any less (or more) accountable for their actions because they appear to have lived their lives on the fringes of society.

In the case at bar, Fairchild has been lawfully convicted of the capital murder of Davis. He has been sentenced by the Circuit Court of Newton County to imprisonment for life. We have carefully reviewed the record, the assignments of error, and the briefs and arguments of counsel. We affirm.

II.

A.

On December 29, 1982, Joe T. Davis, age 50, was driving through Arizona on his way to Florida. His vehicle was a 1972 Ford van. Near Toletec, Arizona, Davis picked up a 23 year old hitchhiker named Timothy Lee Dickson who was en route to his home in North Carolina. Davis had been drinking beer prior to picking up Dickson. Afterwards, Dickson joined Davis in his beer consumption as the two traveled east on Interstate Highway 10--stopping only to maintain the van, to visit bars, and to buy more beer.

Roger Fairchild, the Defendant below and Appellant here, was a 42 year old drifter from Pennsylvania. On New Year's Eve, December 31, 1982, Fairchild was hitchhiking on Interstate Highway 20 near Longview, Texas. Davis stopped to pick him up. Dickson was still riding with Davis. Fairchild soon joined Davis and Dickson in their beer libations, as the three headed east on I-20.

According to Dickson, Davis had been "flashing" around a lot of cash. During a bathroom stop near Shreveport, Louisiana, Dickson told Fairchild that Davis had a lot of money and that he, Dickson, believed that he and Fairchild could "knock him out and rob him". Dickson testified that Fairchild agreed that this was a good idea. At a later stop, while looking for a bar, Dickson asked Fairchild if he had a knife. Fairchild responded affirmatively and handed Dickson his knife.

Thereafter that afternoon the trio located a likely looking "tonk" in Monroe, Louisiana. They stopped and again imbibed profusely. Several hours later they recommenced their journey east on Interstate Highway 20. At this time Dickson was drunk and driving, Fairchild was drunk in the front seat and sleeping, and Davis was drunk in the back of the van and sleeping. They continued in this fashion until sometime after they crossed the Mississippi River and entered the State of Mississippi.

Late on New Year's Eve Dickson was still driving and Davis and Fairchild were still sleeping. Dickson pulled the van off the road. According to his testimony, "I went back there and I started choking the man [Davis], and I pulled the knife out and stabbed him a couple of times." Dickson then took all of the money out of Davis' pockets and "as I started driving, I woke Fairchild up and told him it was done". According to Dickson, Fairchild responded that they should look for a bridge with some water in it. Fairchild then went to the back of the van and took rings, jewelry and travelers checks off of Davis, then returned to the front part of the van with Dickson.

Dickson testified that he had an agreement with Fairchild that they would split everything fifty-fifty. However, Dickson testified that he received $2,000 in travelers checks while Fairchild kept $3,000 for himself. They divided the two watches found on Davis' body and jointly spent the cash on beer and gas. Fairchild kept the rest of the jewelry.

Shortly after Dickson killed Davis, they arrived at a bridge located in Newton County, Mississippi. According to Dickson, "I pulled off the road, and I opened the side door, and we both drug him out and threw him in the water, and got back in the van and took off".

On February 4, 1983--some five weeks later, Newton County Deputy Sheriff Robert Earl Dean discovered the body of a white male approximately 50 years of age near the marker for mile 102 on Interstate Highway 20. The body was found approximately 150 to 200 feet north of the highway in some bushes near a north running creek. It was clothed in a light brown sport-type jacket, light brown or tan pants, a flowery shirt, with the rear back pockets turned inside-out. The body was taken to Jackson where an autopsy was performed under the direction of Dr. Rodrigo Galvez, pathologist. The cause of death was massive internal bleeding from a stab wound to the heart.

B.

On March 24, 1983, Fairchild and Dickson were jointly charged with the capital murder of Joe Davis in an indictment returned by the Newton County Grand Jury. The indictment specifically charged that Dickson and Fairchild murdered Davis while they were engaged in the commission of the crime of robbery. Miss. Code Ann. Sec. 97-3-19(2)(e) (Supp.1983).

Immediately thereafter, the State entered into a plea bargain agreement with Dickson whereunder Dickson, on March 28, 1983, pled guilty to the separate crimes of murder and armed robbery. Upon these convictions, Dickson received sentences of life imprisonment and 35 years, respectively, the sentences to run consecutively.

On August 24, 1983, the case against Roger Fairchild was called for trial in the Circuit Court of Newton County, Mississippi. After hearing all the evidence and receiving the instructions of the Court and the arguments of counsel, the jury found Fairchild guilty of capital murder. Thereafter, the State put Fairchild to trial on the question of sentence. Miss. Code Ann. Sec. 99-19-101 (Supp.1983). At approximately 6:45 p.m. on August 25, 1983, the jury returned a verdict, to wit: "We, the jury, find the Defendant should be sentenced to life imprisonment." Immediately thereafter, the Circuit Judge imposed sentence in accordance with the verdict.

Thereafter, Defendant Fairchild, acting by and through his attorney, timely filed a motion for judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the verdict or, in the alternative, for a new trial. On September 2, 1983, the Circuit Court entered its order overruling these alternative motions. Fairchild now appeals to this Court.

III.

A.

On this appeal Fairchild first urges reversal on the asserted grounds that the verdict of the jury was contrary to the overwhelming weight of the credible evidence. Although he attacks the evidence in its entirety, a study of Fairchild's brief makes clear that his primary contention is that the State never proved that the body found in Newton County on February 4, 1983, was that of Joe T. Davis. The point is not well taken.

Fairchild's accomplice, Timothy Lee Dickson, testified that the $2,000 in travelers checks handed him by Fairchild were in the name of Joe T. Davis. Dickson also identified Davis' driver license as belonging to the person he killed. In addition, Dickson described the deceased as having been dressed in a brownish-like suit, pants and a flowery shirt--a description comparable to that given by Deputy Sheriff Dean of the clothing found on the body he discovered on February 4, 1983.

It is true that the State must prove that the person killed is one and the same person named in the indictment as having been killed. Duke v. State, 243 Miss. 602, 604-605, 139 So.2d 370, 371-372 (1962); Dooley v. State, 238 Miss. 16, 18-19, 116 So.2d 820, 821 (1960). In the case at bar we hold that the testimony regarding the name of Joe T. Davis on the travelers checks, the testimony regarding his drivers license and the matching testimony from Dickson and Deputy Dean regarding the clothing of the deceased are more than sufficient to enable a reasonable jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the person killed on December 31, 1982, and whose body was discovered on February 4, 1983, was one and the same Joe T. Davis the killing of whom has been charged in the indictment.

B.

Considering the evidence and the verdict more generally, we observe that there is in this record no evidence that Fairchild wielded the fatal blow at Davis, or any other blow for that matter. Still, Fairchild has been tried and convicted as a principal to the crime of capital murder, and this by virtue of Miss. Code Ann. Sec. 97-1-3 (1972), which provides:

Every person who shall be an accessory to any felony, before the fact, shall be deemed and considered a principal, and shall be indicted and punished as such, ....

The evidence in this record is sufficient to establish that Fairchild participated in advance planning of the robbery of Davis, furnished Dickson the knife used in the murder, and that after Davis had been killed Fairchild took charge of dividing the "take" and assisted in disposing of the body. This is enough. Bullock v. State, 391 So.2d 601, 606 (Miss.1980); Young v. State, 425 So.2d 1022, 1029 (Miss.1983); White v. State, 330 So.2d 877, 879-880 (Miss.1976); Jones v. Thigpen, 741 F.2d 805, 816 (5th Cir.1984).

To be sure, the evidence which produced the conviction from which Fairchild here appeals was provided by his co-indictee and accomplice, Timothy Lee Dickson. We have...

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