Faraga v. State, DP-62

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Citation514 So.2d 295
Docket NumberNo. DP-62,DP-62
PartiesLazaro FARAGA v. STATE of Mississippi.
Decision Date29 July 1987

Thomas H. Scruggs, Kenneth J. Rose, Sweet & Rose, Jackson, for appellant.

Edwin Lloyd Pittman, Atty. Gen. by Marvin L. White, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., Felicia C. Adams, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Jackson, and Orbie Craft, Dist. Atty., Brandon, for appellee.

Before the court en banc.

HAWKINS, Presiding Justice, for the Court:

Lazaro Faraga appeals from his conviction of the crime of capital murder in the circuit court of Rankin County and sentence to death. Numerous errors have been assigned which we have carefully examined. Persuaded no reversible error was committed, we affirm.


Memory, it has been said, can either be a paradise from which you cannot be evicted, or a hell from which there is no escape. If this be true, then certain travelers on U.S. I-20 witnessed an event at the Pelahatchie Exit in Rankin County on Thursday, December 19, 1985, which must surely place them in the latter category.

There--depending upon their view--shortly before noon on a clear day they saw some or all of the following: a maroon car was stopped in the left lane of the East bound traffic, with doors on both sides opened. Outside the car a man attempted to push a woman and small child clinging to the woman's leg into the path of an oncoming truck. The woman got back into the car, shut the door, only to have the man get the door open and pull her and a two-month-old baby from the car. He tore the child from the woman's arms and threw it onto the hood of a yellow car. He then picked the baby up, raised it over his head, and threw it onto the pavement. The woman got the baby and ran to the side of a truck parked nearby, yelling, "Oh, My God, my baby." She tried to get into the truck, but the door was locked, and again the man grabbed the infant and threw it to the pavement.

Before committing this atrocity he had walked around the car, kissed a little girl coming out of the car, and put her back into the car.

A paramedic witness tried to help the baby, which died a short while later. An autopsy subsequently revealed it died from multiple skull fractures and injuries to its brain.

Lazaro Faraga had been driving the maroon car. Faraga, 27 years old, was one of the Cuban refugees admitted to this country in 1980. In the car with Faraga were Sherry Royal, a woman with whom he had been living, Cachi, her five-year-old daughter (and presumably the child he kissed), two smaller children, twins, who were the children of Faraga and Royal, and the infant Lorenso Nathaniel Faraga, also known as Lorenso Nathaniel Royal.

Royal did not testify and all that is in this record as to the circumstances leading to this horror comes from Faraga. He had been in jail in Texas on a cocaine charge. Royal had gone to Texas with bail money obtained from Faraga's stepfather, and thereby got him released. The group were en route to Miami, Florida. Faraga testified in Spanish. Here is his translated story:

A. I was a prisoner in the jail in Texas. I went to doctor. He gave me a pill for my ulcer. The pill the doctor gave me I felt it in my head, it made my head swim. The doctor didn't touch me, didn't examine me. He gave me twelve pills. In five days I take. Every day I took two pills. I called my Daddy a lot of times by telephone. Three or four times. Then after, the police, they put me in another cell block. Two policemen got me by the feet and by the hands and put me in another cell block with crazy people. I told my Daddy about that by the telephone. The pills were making me crazy. When I left, they gave me liberty, my freedom. The seventeenth. The gentlemen who had let me out. Who paid the bail. The pill made me crazy. I left them in the motel. I left the boys and a lady, woman. I paid the motel bill in Louisiana. I left my watch and my ring. I went to the motel. I went to another motel and I went to sleep there. I got up the next morning. I felt the same in my head. I went to McDonald's to get meal. Supper. Then we came to Mississippi. When I was in Mississippi all the cars were in the freeway. They didn't let me pass. I flicked my lights. I blew the horn. Nobody let me pass, didn't let me pass. I got in the other line with the parked car. They followed, kept on. I stayed in the lane for ten minutes. I was going sixty, seventy-five miles an hour. Then I heard a voice in the car. The voice began to talk in my memory. If you love me, the voice said, if you love me, stop the car. I stopped the car. I ask for her to give me the baby. I said, give the baby, give the baby. I went out in the middle of the street. I took the baby in the hand. I grabbed him by the leg. And I threw him down. There was an eighteen wheeler coming. And I beat on the door. The driver got down, got out and hit me. He hit me, when he hit me I got my senses back. When I recognize, there was a little baby, then I saw the baby there, then I said to myself, what have I done, what thing have I done. I didn't want to kill anybody. I didn't want to kill anybody. The pill had driven me crazy.... I understand God. I know what is going on. I have never seen this. The first time in my life my head has ever done that, head swimming, swimming. The doctor didn't examine me, didn't do anything. He just wrote down a prescription and gave me the pill. Everyday I took two pills. Everyday two pills. The only day that I didn't have a pill, the seventeenth. They put me with the crazy people in the lockup. And I called my Daddy by telephone. I'm not fooling anybody. I don't want to kill anybody. When I threw the baby down I didn't know what I was doing. I remembered what happened, I came to myself when that guy hit me. That's all.

Vol. II, pp. 162-164.

In direct and cross-examination of Faraga it was elicited that he had been jailed in Cuba on a political charge, as well as possession of a small amount of marijuana. His natural father died when he was an infant. He was homesick to see his mother and another child of his in Cuba. His stepfather came to the United States as one of the refugees. The name, location and whereabouts of his stepfather, or indeed any of these other people is not revealed in this record.

All this Court knows about the occupants of the car comes from Faraga's testimony at the sentencing phase. He did not think the baby he killed was his, but was certain the twins were. As to Royal, he testified:

Q. What did Sherry tell you that you had to go to jail for?

A. I don't know. She knew that I didn't love her, that I had another girlfriend. That was better than her. She was totally bad. Didn't respect me. Sherry hit me on the head. She didn't respect me. I caught her with an American smoking marijuana in the car.

Vol. II, p. 171.

Just before stopping his car on Interstate 20, he testified he threw his shoes, then his jacket, and then money out of the car window, but "The cars wouldn't let me pass my shoes out the window." (Vol. II, p. 171)

He denied that he killed the baby because of a rage he had got into with Royal, testifying:

A. No, no, only because of the pill. When Sherry and I had fought before I had never touched the kids. I changed the babies and bathed the babies. What do I want to kill a baby two months old for? Sherry Royal had give much milk to the baby. The baby was drooling milk out of the mouth.

Vol. II, p. 172

Cross-examination also developed the following:

Q. Mr. Faraga, is it true you told the police officers out there at the scene, "I kill baby." "Not my baby."

A. No, where the police came they put me on the ground, they put cuffs on me and they sat me down in the police car, "have you seen what you have done?" I said excuse me, I don't know what--then there came a Mexican who spoke some Spanish. Then the Mexican said, you have killed the baby. I said yeah. Then I didn't remember it. I didn't have conscious of it. Because the lick that the truck driver gave me brought me to my consciousness. When I came to my senses I realized that. Anybody to get a pill like that would be crazy. Anybody would be crazy. Pills that last seventy two hours, days. I took the twelve of them in prison. I felt very bad. They changed me. They put me in a cell block with crazy people. Two policemen got me, one by the feet, one by the hand. And they put me in a cell block with a bunch of crazy people. They were screaming and shouting and I called on the telephone. Then the police in Texas had a saw. It was making a lot of noise. They were playing in the cell block where the crazy people were. I don't want to kill anybody, I don't want to kill anybody. It could happen with any young guy. Can't take that many pills. And people take that many pill. In Cuban prison they don't give pills. Cubans selling cocaine. Everybody here sells cocaine. Because they like money. In Cuba, no cocaine. I never seen cocaine in Cuba. Only here.

Vol. II, pp. 172-173.

Faraga stated that one Eddie Brown had come with Royal to Texas to make his bail (R. 165), but Brown was left behind and did not make the return trip. Faraga stated he had told Brown about the effect the pill had upon him.

As to the voices he heard, Faraga testified:

Q. So you are telling this jury that the voices told you about all these people and to stop the car but the voices did not tell you to kill the baby?

A. No, the voices did not tell me to kill. The voices mentioned many people to me. But they didn't tell me to kill the baby. Then the voices went away and I didn't hear anything. Then I felt like a crazy man. I asked the baby from her. The only one because I had more in the car. The only one I ask her for was this one. Give me here, give me here. She give it to me rapid. I don't know what was happening. The baby was crying and crying. She had given him a lot of milk. And he was drooling milk.

Vol. II, p. 175.

The only person appearing in this record who knew him...

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