Jackson v. State, 91-DP-01190-SCT

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtMcRAE; DAN LEE; BANKS; PITTMAN
Citation684 So.2d 1213
PartiesHenry Curtis JACKSON, Jr. v. STATE of Mississippi.
Docket NumberNo. 91-DP-01190-SCT,91-DP-01190-SCT
Decision Date05 December 1996

Page 1213

684 So.2d 1213
Henry Curtis JACKSON, Jr.
STATE of Mississippi.
No. 91-DP-01190-SCT.
Supreme Court of Mississippi.
Dec. 5, 1996.
Rehearing Denied Dec. 5, 1996.

Page 1217

Johnnie E. Walls, Jr., Walls Law Firm, Greenville, for appellant.

Michael C. Moore, Attorney General, Marvin L. White, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, Jackson, for appellee.

En Banc.

McRAE, Justice, for the Court:

Henry Curtis Jackson, Jr. was indicted by a grand jury of the Leflore County Circuit Court in connection with the November 1, 1990 stabbing deaths of his four young nieces and nephews and aggravated assaults upon his sister and another niece while he was in search of money kept in a safe in his mother's home near Greenwood, Mississippi. After a change of venue to Copiah County, a jury found him guilty on all counts and sentenced him to death for each of the four capital murder charges; thirty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections for each of the two counts of aggravated assault; and twenty years in the custody of the MDOC on one count of armed robbery. 1 Appealing the capital murder convictions, Jackson raises thirty-eight assignments of error arising from both the guilt and sentencing phases of his trial. Finding, at best, harmless error, we affirm his convictions and sentences.


Mrs. Jackson and four of her older grandchildren left her home in the Rising Sun community, south of Greenwood, Mississippi, for church at the Sweet Home Church of God in Christ at around 7:00 p.m. on November 1, 1990. Her daughter, Regina Jackson, stayed at home with her two daughters, five-year old Dominique and two-year old Shunterica, and four nieces and nephews, eleven-year old Sarah, three-year old Antonio, two-year old Andrew and one-year old Andrea. While they were watching an hour-long Cosby Show special on television, Regina's older brother, Henry Curtis Jackson, known to the family as "Curtis," knocked on the door and came inside. He asked Regina for a cigarette and then ran to the bathroom, asking her to fix him something for an upset stomach. Sarah recalled that Jackson asked if her Uncles Greg or Johnny were coming over and then put a glove over his hand and wiped clean the knob of the living room door.

Jackson then asked Regina to check the telephone and she discovered it was dead. Together with Antonio, she left for a neighbor's house. Jackson directed Sarah to call her back. He then caught Regina from behind, with one hand around her neck and one around her stomach. He asked her if she had gotten her check and told her that "he wanted twenty dollars for some ass." When she said she didn't have the money, he pulled a knife out and pushed "one in my chin and one in my stomach." Regina yelled for Sarah, who came running and jumped on Jackson's back. The three struggled and then began to talk. Regina testified:

We said, "Curtis, we love you. Why do you want to do us like this. Don't kill us, Curtis." He just went on and was talking about what he wanted to do. He told me, he said, "Regina, I love you but I have got to kill you."

When Regina asked Jackson what he wanted, he told her that he had come to get the safe that was kept in Mrs. Jackson's bedroom closet. The safe contained cash,

Page 1218

jewelry and a certificate of deposit belonging to Mrs. Jackson and her son, Eddie Self. She testified that only Self's daughter, Tara, and Mrs. Jackson knew the combination to the safe. She further stated:

He really wanted the combination but my niece, Sarah, kept telling him to get the safe and go ahead. He said, naw, cause he came to kill us that Thursday and didn't kill us and he came to kill us that Saturday and he didn't kill us and he said he was going to kill all of us tonight.

He then took Regina into Tara's room and tried to open the footlocker where he had been told the combination was kept. At that point, Regina testified, he began stabbing Sarah in the neck and took them into the little boys' room where he told them to let him tie them up. Regina, who had already been stabbed several times, picked up some iron rods that Jackson had brought in from the bathroom and started hitting him with them. He then picked up the baby, Andrea, and used her as a shield. Regina relinquished the rods and let him tie her up with a belt. He stabbed her again in the neck. While she watched, he picked up her daughter, two-year old Shunterica, by the hair, stabbed her and laid her on one of the beds. Jackson started dragging the safe down the hall, which awakened five-year old Dominique. She came down the hall, calling for her mother, at which time, Regina testified, Jackson told her that he loved her, stabbed her and threw her on the floor. He walked over to Regina and again "drilled the knife" in her neck. Regina pretended she was dead until she heard him go into the bathroom and out the window.

Sarah recalls responding to Regina's cries for help, finding her in the boys' bedroom with Jackson sticking one knife at her chin and the other at her waist. Referring to the stab wounds in Regina's neck, Sarah testified that she "had some meat hanging from her chin." Sarah jumped on Jackson's back in an attempt to stop him. Regina then tried to hit Jackson with an iron rod he had brought in from the bathroom. At that point, Sarah testified, Regina told her that Jackson had stabbed Shunterica. Sarah tried to comfort her baby sister, Andrea, and told Antonio to run for help. Jackson called the child back. Regina, by this time, had fainted and Jackson was trying to wake her up. Once he had done that, he grabbed Sarah again and began stabbing her in the neck. After the knife broke off in her neck, he ran to the kitchen, retrieved another knife, stabbed her again and threw her on a bed. Sarah, too, pretended she was dead. She heard her brother, Antonio, yelling for help and saw Jackson kneeling over him. While Sarah did not actually see Jackson stabbing him, she testified that "... I saw his hand moving when he was over him. I didn't see but I knew he was doing something cause my little brother was hollering." She likewise did not witness the stabbing of Andrew, but when she saw him, "[h]e was on the bottom of the bed and his eyes were bulging and his mouth was wide open."

In his statement given to police, Jackson stated that he began stabbing Regina in the side while they were arguing. After that, referring to Sarah and the children, he said, "they all was coming at me and I just was stabbing." Elaborating, he stated:

After I stabbed Regina, she kept coming and Sarah came in and I couldn't see her from the back. I know I stabbed her back there and they both got in front of me. I don't know if I stabbed her, but I was hitting back.

Regina had a rod or something on hand, I guess up to the window or something. I know I seen her reach up to the window and pull something out. Regina was fighting at me with the rod. I ... Yeah, it was a rod, an iron rod. I was stabbing at her. Sarah was at the back. Her and the other little kids were hollering and --- I guess they thought me and Regina was just into it, at first. She was hitting me with something. I don't know what Sarah had.

He had no specific recollection of stabbing the children.

Angelo Maurice Geens, Mrs. Jackson's cousin and neighbor, returned to his home at about 8:30 p.m. that night. Sarah ran to him from the bushes where she had been hiding and told him that Regina and the others were in the house; her uncle had killed them. Geens carried her into his mother's house

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and called the police and an ambulance. Deputy Sheriff J.B. Henry and Deputies Tindall, Berdin and Fondren arrived at the scene and discovered the children's bodies.

Sarah Jackson underwent surgery for five potentially serious stab wounds to her abdomen, chest and neck, including a lacerated windpipe. Regina suffered five serious stab wounds to her neck. Baby Andrea suffered a single penetrating stab wound to her neck which caused a tracheal injury and profoundly damaged her spinal cord. As a result, she is unable to walk and has no fine motor control in her arms.

Leflore County Coroner James R. Hankins pronounced the four children dead at the scene. The bodies were sent to the Deputy State Medical Examiner for forensic pathology examinations. Dr. Steven Hayne, who performed autopsies on the children, testified that Shunterica suffered three stab wounds to the neck and two shoulder abrasions. Her jugular vein was severed, leading Dr. Hayne to opine that she ultimately bled to death. Andrew sustained three stab wounds to the neck. The first cut through the carotid artery and the jugular vein. Another missed the trachea, but went into his backbone and severed the spinal cord. Dr. Hayne opined that such an injury "would require a considerable amount of strength" and noted the presence of a pinpoint hemorrhage caused by force on the child's neck. Dominique, too, died of multiple stab wounds to the neck. Three of the four stab wounds cut her jugular vein and trachea. Antonio suffered four stab wounds and two slash wounds. His trachea was cut and Dr. Hayne determined that he died as a result of a chest wound which cut through his heart.

Meanwhile, Jackson had become the subject of an extensive manhunt. While still at the Jackson residence, Deputy Sheriff Tindall received a call from the Highway Patrol regarding a wrecked car in Eupora just fifty yards from the site where the Eupora Police Department had been conducting a routine license check. The 1977 green Monte Carlo bore a license tag registered to Martha Jackson's 1973 brown Ford station wagon. A wallet containing Jackson's identification was found on the front console and his own license tag as well as a long, dark trench coat were found in the trunk of the vehicle.

Jackson had abandoned his car when he saw the roadblock and taken off on foot through the woods. Eluding canine search teams, he jumped a train from Eupora...

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