Harveston v. State

Decision Date20 August 1986
Docket NumberNo. 56376,56376
PartiesRoger Lynn HARVESTON v. STATE of Mississippi.
CourtMississippi Supreme Court

William D. Boerner, Robert D. Underwood, Boerner & Underwood, Brookhaven, for appellant.

Edwin Lloyd Pittman, Atty. Gen. by Leyser Q. Morris, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Jackson, for appellee.


ROBERTSON, Justice, for the Court:


Today's twenty-two year old Appellant seeks relief from his life sentence imposed following his conviction of murder. No difficult or novel questions of law are presented. Rather, the case serves to remind us of the awesome responsibility shouldered by those oft-maligned citizens, our jurors.

Twelve Lincoln County jurors who could not know what really happened were asked to sort out an exclusive tale of death and heavy drinking and alleged homosexuality. No doubt they, as we, were aware of the enormity of the impact on the accused of a mistaken verdict. The jury convicted. A faithful application of our law, attended by respect and humility, requires that we affirm.



On July 7, 1984, Roger Lynn Harveston, Defendant below and Appellant here, went to the Sunset Bar in Pike County, Mississippi, with his friends, Keith Durr and Timothy Waldrop. The three played pool and drank beer and remained at the Sunset until it closed about 12:00 midnight. The trio then left and went to the Panama Limited Lounge in McComb, Mississippi. Upon entering the Panama, Harveston was given a black mark on the back of his hand, indicating he could not be served mixed alcoholic drinks. Harveston was 20 years old at the time.

Around 3:00 a.m. on July 8, 1984, David Myers, manager of the Panama Limited Lounge, observed Harveston drinking out of Keith Durr's mixed drink. Because he had violated the rules of the lounge, Harveston was asked to leave. Harveston requested permission to stay, promising not to drink any alcoholic beverages on the premises again. Myers explained the lounge policy which prevented Harveston from returning to the lounge on the same night in which he had been caught violating the rules. Harveston left without protest and his friends remained behind.

Charles Barron, an employee of Yesterday's Restaurant (located in the same building complex as the Panama Limited Lounge), had stopped by the Panama after finishing work. Barron encountered Harveston outside the lounge and offered to take him home to Brookhaven. At the time Barron was 55 years old, of stocky build--six foot tall and weighs 180 pounds. Roger Harveston was then 20 years old, of slight build--5'4 and weighed 130 pounds. The two left the lounge with Barron driving his late model maroon Oldsmobile.

At some point thereafter Keith Durr and Tim Waldrop finished their drinks and began searching outside for Harveston but were unable to locate him. Durr and Waldrop then decided to return to Brookhaven in Durr's pickup truck. Because Durr had had too much to drink, Waldrop took over driving in Summit.

While driving along the Old Wesson Road, Waldrop saw a car coming up behind him "real fast". The car, an Oldsmobile, passed Durr and Waldrop and took a fork in the road going toward Harveston's and Waldrop's house. When Waldrop got to the top of the hill, he noticed the car coming back toward him again and he (Waldrop) pulled into Charles Wallace's trailer. The car also pulled into Wallace's trailer and at that time Waldrop realized that Roger Harveston was driving it. Both vehicles were stopped. Waldrop got out and walked over to the vehicle Harveston was driving and noticed a man, later identified as Charles Barron, lying face down on the passenger side of the car. The man was lying still. Waldrop noticed a handgun on the front seat of the car and recognized it as belonging to Harveston.

Moments later Waldrop saw a police car approaching, and Waldrop turned and ran. Officer Bobby Bell of the Brookhaven Police Department was driving the car. The time was 4:40 a.m., and he was in the process of investigating a loud noise complaint. As Bell approached he saw Harveston standing by the car. He also noticed Waldrop running away from the Oldsmobile.

When Officer Bell arrived at Charles Wallace's trailer he noticed that a black pickup truck and a 1983 Oldsmobile were parked there. Waldrop had run behind the trailer. Harveston, who had gotten out of the maroon Oldsmobile he was driving, went over to talk with Officer Bell, who in turn informed Harveston that someone reported loud noises. Harveston said, "Okay bro, we'll quieten it down, we'll go in the house." Officer Bell was unaware that Barron was lying on the floor of the Oldsmobile--whether he was dead is not clear, and Harveston volunteered no such information.

As Officer Bell was driving away he heard Harveston yell for Tim. Officer Bell was aware that Ronnie Poole, also a Brookhaven Police Officer, had written Tim Waldrop a ticket in the area so he believed that the "Tim" Harveston was hollering for was the same person who had received the ticket. Officer Bell radioed Patrolman Poole, who was also on duty, and asked him to go to Clara Street where Tim Waldrop lived to find out why he was running.

By this time, Officer Bell had driven his vehicle to the intersection of Choctaw and Sixth Street where he noticed the maroon Oldsmobile at the stop sign on Sixth Street. The Oldsmobile was first headed west but after Harvston spotted Officer Bell's police car he backed into a driveway and proceeded east on Hinds Street.

Officer Bell radioed Patrolman Poole and informed him that the Oldsmobile was headed toward Clara Street; he also called the tag number in to the dispatcher. During the time Bell made his radio communications he was following the Oldsmobile for a short distance. When Officer Bell's patrol car reached the corner of Hinds Street, the Oldsmobile was no longer in view. There was dust indicating that the driver of the Oldsmobile was speeding away.

Officer Bell turned on his blue lights and proceeded down Hamilton Street. When he arrived at Old Wesson Road, Bell observed a pile of dust on the side of the street, so he proceeded north and found the Oldsmobile wrecked in the front yard of a residence.

Carolyn Partman, who was spending the weekend at her parents home in Brookhaven, heard a loud noise on the early morning of July 8, 1984. She went to the window and observed an Oldsmobile in the yard approximately eight feet from the bedroom window; the vehicle had knocked down a telephone pole before it came to rest in the yard. Although the driver's side was closest to the open window, she could not see the face of the young man who jumped out of the car because he held his hands up to his head. Partman telephoned for the police but was informed that officers were already on the scene. She also noticed that a man was lying on the floorboard of the Oldsmobile.

Officer Bell inspected the wrecked vehicle and found a man, later identified as Charles Barron, lying on the floorboard on the passenger side of the car. He radioed for an ambulance. A .38 revolver was retrieved from the floorboard of the Oldsmobile.

Charles Barron was removed from the wrecked vehicle. Because the emergency medical technicians found a faint pulse, they placed Barron in anti-shock trousers and transported him to Kings Daughter's Hospital in Brookhaven. After the examination in the emergency room, Barron was pronounced deceased.

Dr. V.J. Dhannavada performed an autopsy on the afternoon of July 8, 1984, and found that a gunshot wound received about the left eyebrow was the cause of death. A projectile was removed during the examination. Three separate pre-death injuries to the head other than the gunshot wound were found, their likely source a striking with a blunt instrument. John M. Allen, a firearams examiner at the Crime Lab, found that the projectile came from the .38 revolver which was found in the Oldsmobile.

Harveston fled after he wrecked the Oldsmobile in Partman's yard. He returned to Charles Wallace's trailer where he drove Keith Durr's pickup truck to his (Harveston's) house in order to get his car. Harveston then drove his Cadillac to a fishing camp in Woodville and informed his father about the incident. Harveston then got some sleep. Later that day Investigator Benton Burt of the Brookhaven Police Department telephoned the camp and advised Harveston's father that the police wanted to see Harveston. Richard Harveston transported his son to the Brookhaven Police Department.

Harveston was arrested and given his Miranda 1 rights around 7:35 p.m. on July 8, 1984. During the booking process Harveston was asked to remove his clothes so that his underclothes could be examined. Police Officers asked Harveston to remove his underclothes because they observed spots of blood on them. Larry Turner, a forensic serologist from the Crime Lab, analyzed the blood and found that it was Type A; this was the blood type of the decedent, Charles Barron.

Harveston never denied firing the fatal shot. He maintained, however, that his actions were either justifiable or excusable. His story was originally presented in a written statement he furnished to Brookhaven Police Officers shortly before 8:00 p.m. on July 8, 1984. That statement read as follows:

On Saturday 7-7-84 sometime around dark myself, Keith Durr and Timothy Waldrop went to the Sun Set in Pike County and sometime after midnight we left and went to the Panama in McComb and drank beer and mixed drinks. I drank some of Keith Durr's mixed drink and one of the bouncers made me leave. I was standing on the outside of the Panama and a man walked up and asked me if I needed a ride. I told him I needed a ride to Brookhaven and the man said his name was Charles took me to Brookhaven. We talked about guns on the way to Brookhaven and I told the man I had a .38 pistol I would sell him. We drove to my home and got the gun and went down the road toward the airport and on...

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