Holland v. State

Decision Date11 September 1991
Docket NumberNo. 90-DP-0024,90-DP-0024
Citation587 So.2d 848
PartiesGerald James HOLLAND v. STATE of Mississippi.
CourtMississippi Supreme Court

Earl B. Stegall, Gulfport, for appellant.

Mike C. Moore, Atty. Gen., Marvin L. White, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., Charlene R. Pierce, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Jackson, Cono A. Caranna, II, Dist. Atty., Gulfport, for appellee.

En Banc.

PRATHER, Justice, for the Court:


In September 1986, Gulfport police arrested 49-year-old Gerald James Holland for the murder of 15-year-old Krystal D. King. The Harrison County Grand Jury subsequently indicted Holland for capital murder and the underlying felony of rape. Venue changed to Adams County, where a jury in December 1987 found Holland guilty and sentenced him to death. Holland appealed. This Court affirms the conviction, overturns the death sentence, and remands for re-sentencing.

A. The Facts

Around 8:00 p.m. on a warm Thursday evening--September 11, 1986--21-year-old Willie Boyer ran into his friend, Krystal King, at the Biloxi Beach Arcade. They "hung out" at the arcade until around 9:30--at which time they decided to stroll down to the beach and drink a six-pack of beer. Hours passed; midnight arrived; and the beer ran out. Krystal asked Willie to drive her to a house, unfamiliar to him, located on Burton Avenue in Gulfport. "Jerry" Holland, the appellant in this case, owned this house.


Jerry Holland had not lived in Gulfport all his life; he grew up in his birthplace, Los Angeles, with his mom, dad, two younger brothers, and a younger sister. His dad worked various jobs--as an electrician, truck mechanic, and other positions involving general maintenance. His mom was a homemaker.

During the latter half of his teen-aged years, Holland moved with his family to Memphis where he completed his high-school education and received a "certificate of credits." He left home at the age of twenty-one, and survived by working odd jobs. Holland explained: "As I got older, I worked selling shoes, [became a] dental technician, and got into the electrical trade and stayed in it most of the time." He accumulated over twenty years' experience as an electrician--with some vocational training in this field. He "lived and worked in different places," married and divorced twice, fathered five children, and ran afoul of the law. His criminal record includes convictions for burglary, larceny (auto theft), and rape of a child. He received a four-year term in a Texas prison for the rape; however, he served only one year before being paroled in 1976. He moved to Gulfport in 1981. Five years later, his and Krystal's path crossed.

By that time, in June or July 1986, Holland's second wife had left him and taken their only child, Ina, with her. He was doing "contract work" on and off, and he had secured a roommate, 21-year-old Jerry Douglas, who introduced him to Krystal.


On the night when Boyer drove Krystal to Burton Avenue, Holland had been drinking. This was not out of character for Boyer and Krystal's visit lasted for a couple hours--during which time they watched "David Letterman" (a T.V. talk show) and listened to Holland small-talk about his divorce and the "divorce papers" which he had just received in the mail. Around 2:30 a.m., Boyer decided to leave, and Krystal remained behind. That was the last time Boyer saw her alive.

                Holland.  He had, as of August 1, become a drinker of at least a "six-pack" of beer a day--which he attributed to his "despondence" over his then-pending divorce.  Boyer "remember[s] seeing [Holland] have ... one [beer] the whole time [he] was there," and he "did not appear ... to be intoxicated or drunk."   Boyer himself "had a little bit of tequila and a beer," and Krystal abstained completely.  Meanwhile, Douglas and 19-year-old Carter Fugate, who had only recently moved in, slept soundly in their bedrooms;  they had been in bed since 11:00 p.m

Later in the night--between 3:20 and 3:30 a.m.--a "bump" awakened Douglas:

DOUGLAS: I got up to go to the bathroom and to get a drink of water. I opened my bedroom door, the lights in the house was on, the front door standing wide open.


I heard another noise outside the front door.... [I] looked through the ... door and I saw [Holland] bent over a black object on the ground. I looked at him and asked him, "Jerry, what is going on?" And he looked back up at me and says, "Go back to bed you don't want to know."

Vol. IX, at 1401-02. Douglas then went into the kitchen and peered out the window: "I saw him roll[ ] this object into the back of his pick up truck and it made a loud thud sound when it hit the bed of the truck."

Holland returned to the house and, once inside, Douglas noticed that "he had a wild look on his face, his eyes were very big and glassy looking, and he was shaking." At that point, Holland confessed: "My God, I killed her [Krystal], I killed her." Id. at 1402. According to Douglas, Holland then explained that he and Krystal had had sex on the couch--after which she picked up his "razor-sharp" hunting knife located nearby and "started playing with it." Holland and Krystal "winded up going into his bedroom and she [continued to] play with the knife." Holland "took the knife from her and the next thing he knew it was in her chest." "[H]e had stabbed her."

Douglas noted that Holland changed his story a few minutes later: Holland told him that he and Krystal were "wrestling around on the bed and [she] rolled off the bed and she fell onto the knife." Holland also told him that "he mutilated the body to cover up the stab wounds" and to "make it look like a sex fiend had done it." And he explained that he had placed the body in his truck "to ... bury it and try and cover everything up."

Douglas, under duress, accompanied Holland to bury Krystal's body. Douglas later contacted the Gulfport Police Department and informed homicide detectives--including Wayne Payne and Glen Terrell--about the murder. Upon hearing Douglas' story, the detectives acquired arrest and search warrants.

At approximately 11:20 a.m. on September 12, 1986, a Gulfport Police Department S.W.A.T. Unit executed the warrants; the Unit entered Holland's home, arrested him, and read him his Miranda rights. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 478-79, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 1629-30, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, 726 (1966). Detectives Payne and Terrell read Holland his rights three more times at the police station. Holland decided to waive them and confess.

HOLLAND: We had ... I think we had sex. I was pretty much drunk.... I don't even know if we did it or not and she was sitting in my lap and ... she saw my goddamned hunting knife. She started playing with it and she said let's go to bed, I'm sleepy. I said are you going to sleep on the couch or do you want to sleep with me? She says I'll sleep with you, so we went to the bedroom and she ... still had that goddamned knife in her hand. She was messing around with it like Zorro and all ....

that bullshit. Typical kid at that point, I mean.

I was dodging [the knife] ... and I grabbed her wrist and I was going to take it away from her before one of us got hurt with it and then I bumped into her chest and she says I'm dead. Then things got kind of black there for a minute.

After confessing, Holland accompanied detectives to the burial site; they exhumed the body. An autopsy conducted by Dr. Paul McGarry revealed that Krystal had been brutally battered. McGarry described her injuries and their sequence.

The first injuries were of the face, over the sides of the face, over the center of the face, the lips, over the nose, the eyes, they were more swollen, they were the most advanced. About the same time frame, next in line, the injuries of the arms, forearms, wrists, knees, shins. In that same time pattern, the injuries to the genital region, the stretching and scraping and tearing of the vagina and rectal tissues.... These are produced by forceful penetration of the vagina and rectum by a structure that is able to distend and stretch and tear in a symmetrical pattern. In other words, a round--a roughly round structure penetrating and stretching the vagina and stretching the anus and rectum.... In order to produce these injuries all the [sic] around the edge, it has to be something not as firm and unyielding as a metal or wooden instrument. It has to be a part of a human body or something with that same texture consistency[--like a] male sex organ.

Next is the stab wound of the chest which went through the heart and through the aorta. Next after that is the ligature around the neck, the tying of the shirt tightly around the neck catching the hair in the shirt. Next is the blow to the back of the head which caught the hair that was in the ligature in that position and the last injury ... a pair of underpants ... was stuffed down the throat, down as far as the voice box....

Vol. XII, at 2184-85. McGarry stated that Krystal probably remained conscious during the entire ordeal until, finally, "she died of asphyxiation because of the ligature placed around her neck which closed off her airway, and the stuffing of clothing down her throat that obstructed her windpipe." She probably did not die from the stab wound; indeed, she could have lived "as long as several hours" after being stabbed had she not been strangled. The stab wound did, however, contribute to her death. The mutilation of her genital area occurred post-mortem.


On November 17, 1986, a grand jury returned an indictment against Holland for killing Krystal with "malice aforethought" while "engaged in the commission of the crime and felony of rape." See MISS.CODE ANN. Sec. 97-3-19(2)(e) (1972). The Grand Jury later re-indicted him for the same crime but as an habitual offender. Id. Sec. 99-19-83 (1990 Supp.).

On November 30, 1987--after numerous hearings on pre-trial motions--Judge Kosta N. Vlahos held trial at the Adams County Circuit Court. 1 Twelve days later, the trial concluded. The...

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