Johnson v. State, No. 55265

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Citation477 So.2d 196
PartiesSamuel JOHNSON, a/k/a Samuel Bice Johnson v. STATE of Mississippi.
Decision Date08 May 1985
Docket NumberNo. 55265

Page 196

477 So.2d 196
Samuel JOHNSON, a/k/a Samuel Bice Johnson
STATE of Mississippi.
No. 55265.
Supreme Court of Mississippi.
May 8, 1985.
Rehearing Denied Nov. 6, 1985.

Page 199

Kenneth J. Rose, Jackson, for appellant.

Edwin Lloyd Pittman, Atty. Gen. by William S. Boyd, III and Marvin L. White, Jr., Sp. Asst. Attys. Gen., Jackson, Bob Evans, Dist. Atty., Magee, for appellee.

En Banc.

HAWKINS, Justice, for the Court:

On December 31, 1981, around two o'clock in the afternoon Mississippi Highway Safety Patrolman Billy M. Langham, while acting in line of duty, was murdered on U.S. Highway 49 in Covington County, at the city limits of Collins. He was stabbed with a butcher knife in the back between his shoulder blades, and shot at close range with his own revolver.

Samuel Bice Johnson, one of three men indicted for his murder, following a change of venue, was tried in the Circuit Court of Pike County for capital murder, sentenced to death, and has appealed. Two other men charged in the murder, Otis Lee Fairley and Charles Montgomery, Jr., following separate trials, have been convicted of capital murder, and each sentenced to life imprisonment.

We affirm.

There is no dispute but that Langham was murdered, but it was Johnson's contention at trial and on this appeal that the murderer was Anthony Fields, who constituted the fourth culprit there at the scene of trouble with Patrolman Langham. Johnson has raised numerous issues on his appeal, which we will address. First, the facts.


Anthony Fields and Otis Lee Fairley are first cousins. On December 31, 1981, they were staying together in New Orleans. Around 10:00 that morning the two of them were picked up by Samuel Bice Johnson and Charles Montgomery, Jr., in a 1971 Ford LTD with a yellow body and brown top, Johnson driving.

Fields had seen, but never met Johnson or Montgomery prior to that morning. Montgomery rode on the front seat with Johnson with Fields on the left and Fairley on the right side of the back seat. Their destination was Collins. Fairley was born in Collins and lived there until 1968. Fields was born in Gulfport, where he lived for 15

Page 200

years and then moved to New Orleans. The precise purpose of their trip to Collins is not shown in the record. Fields's mother lived in Collins, having moved there three years previously; Fairley had two sisters living there; and they both had numerous kinsmen there. Fields never lived in Collins.

En route they stopped in either Lumberton or Purvis where Fairley had a sister.

They were traveling North on Highway 49, presently four lanes with a strip between the North and South bound lanes. There are several low hills as the highway approaches Collins from the South.

At approximately 1:30 that afternoon, as they were approaching Collins, they passed Highway Patrolman Billy M. Langham, parked in a Dodge patrol car, with a blue light on top and Highway Safety Patrol decals on its sides. Langham was in uniform, wearing his badge, and armed with a .357 caliber magnum Smith and Wesson revolver.

As they passed the patrol car, Langham started after the Ford with his blue lights blinking. Johnson pulled his car over on the right shoulder and Langham parked the patrol car just a few feet to the rear. Langham walked to the driver's side of Johnson's car and asked to see Johnson's license. Johnson replied he had no license and Langham told him to get out of the car.

The state's version of what then transpired came primarily from Fields, who testified that after Johnson got out of the car Langham noticed a butcher knife on the front seat. Langham picked the knife up, put it on top of the patrol car next to the blue light, and told Johnson to go to the back of his car.

Langham then came back to the Ford car and told the other three he was going to have to search them. They also got out of the car, Langham patted all of them lightly and told them to stand by his car. Fields noticed Johnson whispering to Fairley.

Langham then went to the Ford and searched the front seat. The officer then started the search of the back seat. As he was in the process of searching the back seat, Fairley got the knife off the top of the patrol car and gave it to Johnson. Then, as the officer straightened up from searching the back seat, Johnson stabbed him in the back.

When Fields was asked on direct examination why Johnson would stab the officer, he replied it was to escape.

Fields further testified that when Johnson stabbed Langham, the officer reached for his revolver. He said Johnson then changed hands and went for the revolver, also, and the two started tussling, and Johnson kept on stabbing the officer. Johnson yelled to Fairley to "come knock him out," and after several calls Fairley suddenly ran over and started hitting Langham in the face. Johnson then yelled for Montgomery to get the officer's gun. Montgomery, who was then standing close by the scuffle, hesitated, and then suddenly reached and grabbed the gun. Montgomery then said, "I got it."

The scuffle began by the Ford and moved back towards the patrol car. The officer looked to Fields and said, "Help." Fields did nothing.

When Montgomery got the pistol, Johnson and Fairley both ran for the car. Montgomery remained standing there with the gun on the officer. Langham asked Montgomery, "Please don't shoot me." He asked this more than once.

Montgomery was holding the gun with both hands. He took one hand off to open the car door, and Johnson, who was under the steering wheel, told Montgomery, "No, shoot the m-----f-----." Montgomery hesitated, and Johnson repeated the statement.

Montgomery then put both hands on the pistol and started walking towards the officer. Fields, by this time in the back seat of the LTD, dropped his head so as not to see, and heard a shot. He then heard Montgomery say, "I got him," and Montgomery got into the car. As Johnson drove off Montgomery threw the gun out the window. The record does not reveal from

Page 201

Fields testimony when he got back into the car.

Johnson cursed Montgomery for throwing the gun away, slowed the car down, but because there were witnesses approaching from behind, he did not stop.

As they were driving Johnson repeatedly said he had to find another car. He parked the Ford, and they all got out and ran for a railroad track. When they got on the track, they started walking towards town. Johnson removed the sweater he was wearing and threw it beside the track, which Fields described as brown. Johnson had no clothing under the sweater. Fairley removed his sweat suit to give Johnson his t-shirt, which Johnson put on.

They spotted a yellow Mercury Comet beside the track next to a building. Johnson inspected the car, found the keys were in it, and the four of them got into the car, Johnson driving.

Fairley got on the front seat with Johnson, and Montgomery and Fields got in the back. Johnson told Montgomery and Fields to lie down, which they did.

As they were traveling in the Comet, Johnson asked the others if they thought he did the wrong thing. Montgomery and Fairley said he did the right thing, and Johnson said he'd rather be dead than go back to jail.

The Comet ran a road block at the intersections of Highways 35 and 84 in Jeff Davis County. The officers on the scene shot the tires, and the Comet stopped. Fairley and Johnson ran from the car.

Fields got out with his hands up, and was arrested. Montgomery remained in the car and was arrested.

The officers pursued Johnson and Fairley on foot, and in a short distance caught and arrested them both.

Fields pleaded guilty to the crime of accessory after the fact and was sentenced to five years. He also received three 10-year sentences for guilty pleas to other crimes, two to run concurrent, one consecutively: a total of 25 years to serve. He testified as a witness for the State. He had no prior felony convictions. He had previously been charged with possession of a deadly weapon, assault, and possession of stolen property, and convicted of a misdemeanor, for which he served some time in jail.

On cross-examination Fields admitted to drinking on the way to Collins. The others smoked some marijuana. He said he stood by the front left tire of the patrol car while the scuffling was going on, and never touched Langham. He also testified that when he was questioned by an officer if Johnson did not pull the knife from his pocket he had answered "yes." He admitted he had forgotten to tell the officers about Johnson removing the sweater until some time later, and when he did recall the incident he told his lawyer.

He said the first time he saw the butcher knife was when the officer put it on top of the patrol car. Until then he was unaware Johnson had a knife. He also admitted telling the officers Johnson had a coat on, but said Johnson had the coat on after Montgomery gave it to him.

For purposes of clarity in this opinion, we have given the testimony of Fields first, although he was the last person who testified in the case in chief for the State. We relate the remainder of the facts as told by the State's witnesses.

Andy Wade, a 12- or 13-year-old boy, was riding North on the highway and noticed passing a patrol car parked behind a yellow car, and a patrolman apparently searching the back seat area of the yellow car.

Andy Cochran and his niece, Mrs. Brenda Townsend Watson, wife of a highway patrolman, were two of the occupants of a car traveling South on the highway. They noticed the blue lights on the patrol car, slowed down, and observed the yellow Ford parked in front of the patrol car. They also observed three black men tussling with the patrolman. They saw the officer break away, and being grabbed by the three men. They observed the officer's arm being held behind his back, and blood between his shoulders running down his shirt. Three men were involved in the

Page 202

tussling. Mrs. Watson saw the officer being pushed down the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
224 practice notes
  • Hodges v. State, No. 2002-DP-00337-SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • June 9, 2005
    ...v. State, 602 So.2d 1170 (Miss.1992) remanding for new sentencing hearing. Wiley v. State, 484 So.2d 339 (Miss.1986). Johnson v. State, 477 So.2d 196 Gray v. State, 472 So.2d 409 (Miss.1985). Cabello v. State, 471 So.2d 332 (Miss.1985). Jordan v. State, 464 So.2d 475 (Miss.1985). Wilcher v.......
  • Stringer v. State, No. 55607
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • September 3, 1986
    ...considered. Eddings v. Oklahoma, 455 U.S. 104, 102 S.Ct. 869, 71 L.Ed.2d 1 (1982). A similar question was presented in Johnson v. State, 477 So.2d 196 (Miss.1985). There the defendant attempted to introduce evidence that his codefendants had received life sentence verdicts by other juries. ......
  • Fleming v. State, No. 89-KA-276
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • June 17, 1992
    ...error. See, e.g. Smith v. State, 530 So.2d 155, 161-62 (Miss.1988); Williams v. State, 512 So.2d 666, 672 (Miss.1987); Johnson v. State, 477 So.2d 196, 214 (Miss.1985), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1109, 106 S.Ct. 1958, 90 L.Ed.2d 366 (1986); see also Singleton v. State, 518 So.2d 653, 655 (Miss.......
  • Howard v. State, No. 2000-DP-01280-SCT.
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • July 24, 2003
    ...v. State, 602 So.2d 1170 (Miss.1992) remanding for new sentencing hearing. Wiley v. State, 484 So.2d 339 (Miss. 1986). Johnson v. State, 477 So.2d 196 (Miss. 1985). Gray v. State, 472 So.2d 409 (Miss.1985). Cabello v. State, 471 So.2d 332 (Miss. 1985). Jordan v. State, 464 So.2d 475 (Miss. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
226 cases
  • Clemons v. Mississippi, No. 88-6873
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 28, 1990
    ...441 So.2d, at 850 ("[T]he present case depicts a killing no less heinous than those in Edwards and Gilliard "). 14. In Johnson v. State, 477 So.2d 196 (1985), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1109, 106 S.Ct. 1958, 90 L.Ed.2d 366 (1986), the court stated: "The very word 'murder' embraces within its me......
  • Ballenger v. State, No. 93-DP-00081-SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • September 21, 1995 very careful in limiting free play of ideas, imagery, and personalities of counsel in their argument to jury. See Johnson v. State, 477 So.2d 196 (Miss.1985), cert. denied 476 U.S. 1109, 106 S.Ct. 1958, 90 L.Ed.2d 366 (1986), reh'g denied 476 U.S. 1189, 106 S.Ct. 2930, 91 L.Ed.2d 557 (19......
  • Flowers v. State, NO. 2010–DP–01348–SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • November 2, 2017
    ...State , 602 So.2d 1170 (Miss. 1992) remanding for new sentencing hearing. Wiley v. State , 484 So.2d 339 (Miss. 1986). Johnson v. State , 477 So.2d 196 (Miss. 1985). Gray v. State , 472 So.2d 409 (Miss. 1985). Cabello v. State , 471 So.2d 332 (Miss. 1985). Jordan v. State , 464 So.2d 475 (M......
  • Woodward v. State, No. DP-81
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • October 5, 1988
    ...State, 525 So.2d 365 (Miss.1987) Jones v. State, 517 So.2d 1295 (Miss.1987) Wiley v. State, 484 So.2d 339 (Miss.1986) Johnson v. State, 477 So.2d 196 Gray v. State, 472 So.2d 409 (Miss.1985) Cabello v. State, 471 So.2d 332 (Miss.1985) Jordan v. State, 464 So.2d 475 (Miss.1985) Wilcher v. St......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT