Goodin v. State, No. 1999-DP-00975-SCT.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Citation787 So.2d 639
Decision Date17 May 2001
PartiesHoward GOODIN a/k/a Howard D. Gooden a/k/a Howard Dean Goodin v. STATE of Mississippi.
Docket NumberNo. 1999-DP-00975-SCT.

787 So.2d 639

Howard GOODIN a/k/a Howard D. Gooden a/k/a Howard Dean Goodin
v.
STATE of Mississippi

No. 1999-DP-00975-SCT.

Supreme Court of Mississippi.

May 17, 2001.


787 So.2d 641
Edmund J. Phillips, Jr., Newton, for Appellant

Office of the Attorney General by Marvin L. White, Jr., Judy T. Martin, for Appellee.

EN BANC.

MILLS, Justice, for the Court:

¶ 1. Howard Goodin was indicted in the Circuit Court of Newton County for armed robbery and capital murder. Following a change of venue to the Circuit Court of Lamar County, Goodin was convicted of armed robbery and capital murder in the

787 So.2d 642
Circuit Court of Lamar County in May of 1999. The trial court conducted a habitual offender sentencing hearing at which time Goodin was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole on the armed robbery count. Upon hearing additional testimony in aggravation and mitigation of sentence, additional arguments, and further instructions, the jury returned a sentence of death by lethal injection for the capital murder. Aggrieved, Goodin appeals to this Court

FACTS

¶ 2. The events which occurred inside Willis Rigdon's Store and Restaurant in the early morning hours of November 5, 1998, were recorded by surveillance cameras. The surveillance tapes show a black man, identified as Howard Goodin, entering Rigdon's Store in Union, Mississippi, around 1:44 a.m. Goodin browsed around the video rental section for a few minutes before pulling a gun on the owner of the store, Willis Rigdon. Goodin then disconnected a surveillance camera and the TV and VCR to which it was attached. The tape shows Goodin and Rigdon exiting the store carrying the surveillance camera, TV, and VCR. The two men reenter the store and exit once again with Goodin waving a gun and Rigdon holding his hands in the air. At 1:57 a.m. a witness drove by Rigdon's Store and saw Rigdon sitting in his truck on the driver's side and a black man hunched over in the passenger side.

¶ 3. Shortly after 2:00 a.m., Mitchell Graham and his wife, who live about one mile from the Union city limits and about four miles from Rigdon's store, were awakened by someone knocking on their front door and ringing their door bell. Graham went to the door and, without opening the door, asked who was there. There was no response. Thinking it might be a trouble maker, Graham's wife called her father and told him to drive down to their house to scare the person away. When Graham saw his father-in-law's car, he turned on the outside light and opened the door to find Willis Rigdon lying face down in a pool of blood on the front porch. Rigdon was bleeding profusely from two gunshot wounds to the head and neck. Graham's wife called 911 to request an ambulance.

¶ 4. Graham asked Rigdon what happened, and he stated that he had been shot and robbed. Graham then asked Rigdon if he knew who did it. Rigdon replied, "No, I don't. It was a black man." Rigdon was then transported to the hospital where he subsequently died as a result of the gunshot wounds.

¶ 5. Between 3:00 and 3:30 a.m., Goodin was seen in Philadelphia, Mississippi, driving Rigdon's truck and carrying a large sum of money. Philadelphia is approximately thirteen miles from the city of Union. At 4:30 a.m., Goodin, still driving Rigdon's truck, went to the home of his nephew, Kelly Junior Peden, who resides in Philadelphia. Peden noticed that the steering column of the truck was broken. Goodin later attempted to start the truck with a screwdriver, but was unable to do so. Peden then became suspicious and told Goodin that he could not leave the truck in his driveway. Goodin then removed the license plate from the truck and threw it away.

¶ 6. Goodin left Peden's house and walked to the home of his cousin, Iris Owens, and asked her to drive him to Union. She told him that she did not drive at night and instead called a tow truck. The tow truck driver, John Raymond Roberts, picked Goodin up at Owens' home and drove him to Peden's home. Roberts asked Goodin who owned the truck, and Goodin responded, "This white fellow in Union." Roberts noticed that the truck had no license plate and that the

787 So.2d 643
steering column was broken. He told Goodin that he would have to call the police department and have the VIN number run before he could tow the truck. Goodin told Roberts to do whatever he wanted with the truck but to take him back to Owens' house. Before the men left the Peden house, Goodin got a TV and VCR out of the back of Rigdon's truck and put it in the tow truck. Goodin then gave Roberts $50.00 from a long sock of money he had in his pocket. Roberts then drove him to Iris Owens' house. As Goodin exited the tow truck, he told Roberts, "You don't know me, and I don't know you." Goodin took the TV and VCR into Owens' house

¶ 7. Iris Owens testified that Goodin returned to her house with a VCR and TV. He then left saying he would be back to get the VCR and TV. Goodin never returned. Later that morning, the police came to Owens' house. Owen turned the VCR and TV over to the police. The police asked Owens whether Goodin was armed when he was at her house. She told the police that she had not seen a gun. She later found a gun hidden among her crochet items. She then called the police who returned and retrieved the gun.

¶ 8. When Goodin's nephew, Peden, heard about the robbery and description of the truck, he called the police and told them that a truck fitting that description was at his house. Tow truck operator Roberts saw the surveillance tapes showing Goodin and Rigdon on a news broadcast. He too notified the police. Based on the information from the video surveillance tapes and the statements of Peden, Roberts and Owens, the police began searching for Goodin. They arrested him later that day at the home of Jetty Mae Kelly in Philadelphia, Mississippi. He had a stocking filled with $590.00 in his pocket at the time of the arrest.

¶ 9. Goodin was booked, and an officer took him to get a shower and change into jail clothes. At this time Goodin took $200.00 out of his socks. After his shower, Goodin took another $700.00 out of his mouth.

¶ 10. Goodin was tried as a habitual offender in the Circuit Court of Lamar County for the capital murder of Willis Rigdon during the commission of a kidnapping in Count I and armed robbery in Count II. Goodin's previous convictions include:

1972 Shoplifting 2 years 1973 Burglary 5 years 1977 Second Degree Sexual Assault 7 years, each Robbery count, concurrent Burglary 1980 Armed Robbery 25 years 1982 Aggravated Assault 25 years Armed Robbery Attempted Armed Robbery Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer 1995 Burglary 6 years

Goodin had been out of prison only five months before the murder. The jury convicted Goodin on both counts and sentenced him to death by lethal injection.

787 So.2d 644
DISCUSSION

I. WHETHER THE COURT ERRED IN GIVING SENTENCING INSTRUCTION S-2.

¶ 11. Goodin argues that the trial judge committed reversible error by giving sentencing instruction S-2 regarding aggravating and mitigating circumstances. "In determining whether error lies in the granting or refusal of various instructions, the instructions actually given must be read as a whole. When so read, if the instructions fairly announce the law of the case and create no injustice, no reversible error will be found." Coleman v. State, 697 So.2d 777, 782 (Miss.1997) (quoting Collins v. State, 691 So.2d 918 (Miss. 1997)). Sentencing instruction S-2 reads as follows:

The Court instructs the Jury that it must be emphasized that the procedure that you must follow is not a mere counting process of a certain number of aggravating circumstances versus the number of mitigating circumstances. Rather, you must apply your reasoned judgment as to whether this situation calls for life imprisonment without parole, life imprisonment or whether it requires the imposition of death, in light of the totality of the circumstances present.

¶ 12. Goodin contends that this instruction violates the Eight Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by permitting the jury to substitute its own judgment in place of the statutory scheme. See, Miss.Code Ann. § 99-19-101. Goodin further argues that the instruction invites the jurors to ignore the elements of aggravation and mitigation or to set them aside in favor of their own subjective feelings about the proper sentence.

¶ 13. The State argues that this instruction does not violate either the statute or federal cases regarding the imposition of the sentence of death. To the contrary, the State submits that the instruction enhances the weighing process required by statute.

¶ 14. This Court has approved the use of nearly identical instructions in Edwards v. State, 737 So.2d 275 (Miss.1999), and Watts v. State, 733 So.2d 214 (Miss.1999). We explained that Miss.Code. Ann. § 99-19-101 clearly limited "the aggravating factors which a trial jury may consider to those specifically listed in subsection five of the statute." Edwards, 737 So.2d at 314 (citing Balfour v. State, 598 So.2d 731, 747-48 (Miss.1992)). This Court held that this instruction "did not instruct the jury to consider other non-statutory aggravating factors. It merely informed the jury on the manner in which they were to evaluate those aggravating circumstances which they could consider under the statute." Id. (quoting Lester v. State, 692 So.2d 755, 801 (Miss.1997)).

¶ 15. Disputes about jury instructions in the trial courts should be based on more than a quest for technical purity. The question for the trial courts should be: do the instructions fairly state the laws of Mississippi? A fair reading of our precedents and the instructions in this case dictate the obvious appropriateness of the instruction given. We find the trial court did not err in granting sentencing instruction S-2 for the jury to consider in determining the sentence to impose.

¶ 16. For the first time on appeal, Goodin also asserts that sentencing...

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  • Jones v. Chatman, CASE NO. CV502-116
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Georgia)
    • September 30, 2019
    ...In support of his argument, Petitioner cites a variety of cases which have found similar arguments to be improper. See Goodin v. State, 787 So. 2d 639, 652-53 (Miss. 2001); Brown v. State, 11 So. 3d 866, 918-19 (Ala. Crim. App. 2007); State v. Johnson, 360 S.E.2d 317, 324 (S.C. 1987). Despi......
  • Flowers v. State, NO. 2010–DP–01348–SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • November 2, 2017
    ...misconduct endangers the fairness of a trial and the impartial administration of justice, reversal must follow." Goodin v. State , 787 So.2d 639, 645 (¶ 18) (Miss. 2001) (citing Acevedo v. State , 467 So.2d 220, 226 (Miss. 1985) ). However, we have held that, even if a prosecutor's statemen......
  • Hutto v. State, NO. 2014-DP-00177-SCT.
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • May 11, 2017
    ...crime to capital murder and as an aggravating circumstance. See Bennett [v. State], 933 So.2d [930, 954 (Miss. 2006) ] ; Goodin v. State, 787 So.2d 639, 654 (Miss. 2001) ; Smith[v. State], 729 So.2d [1191, 1223 (Miss. 1998) ] ; Bell v. State, 725 So.2d 836, 859 (Miss. 1998) ; Crawford v. St......
  • Loden v. State, No. 2002-DP-00282-SCT.
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • October 4, 2007
    ...use of the underlying felony ... as an aggravator during sentencing has been consistently upheld in capital cases."); Goodin v. State, 787 So.2d 639, 654 (Miss.2001); Evans, 725 So.2d at 697-98. See also Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 393 n. 16, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000) ("[......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
111 cases
  • Jones v. Chatman, CASE NO. CV502-116
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Georgia)
    • September 30, 2019
    ...In support of his argument, Petitioner cites a variety of cases which have found similar arguments to be improper. See Goodin v. State, 787 So. 2d 639, 652-53 (Miss. 2001); Brown v. State, 11 So. 3d 866, 918-19 (Ala. Crim. App. 2007); State v. Johnson, 360 S.E.2d 317, 324 (S.C. 1987). Despi......
  • Flowers v. State, NO. 2010–DP–01348–SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • November 2, 2017
    ...misconduct endangers the fairness of a trial and the impartial administration of justice, reversal must follow." Goodin v. State , 787 So.2d 639, 645 (¶ 18) (Miss. 2001) (citing Acevedo v. State , 467 So.2d 220, 226 (Miss. 1985) ). However, we have held that, even if a prosecutor's statemen......
  • Hutto v. State, NO. 2014-DP-00177-SCT.
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • May 11, 2017
    ...crime to capital murder and as an aggravating circumstance. See Bennett [v. State], 933 So.2d [930, 954 (Miss. 2006) ] ; Goodin v. State, 787 So.2d 639, 654 (Miss. 2001) ; Smith[v. State], 729 So.2d [1191, 1223 (Miss. 1998) ] ; Bell v. State, 725 So.2d 836, 859 (Miss. 1998) ; Crawford v. St......
  • Loden v. State, No. 2002-DP-00282-SCT.
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • October 4, 2007
    ...use of the underlying felony ... as an aggravator during sentencing has been consistently upheld in capital cases."); Goodin v. State, 787 So.2d 639, 654 (Miss.2001); Evans, 725 So.2d at 697-98. See also Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 393 n. 16, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000) ("[......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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