Johnson v. State

Decision Date06 June 2017
Docket NumberNO. 2015–KA–00235–COA,2015–KA–00235–COA
Citation242 So.3d 145
Parties Trevontae JOHNSON, Meekco Johnson a/k/a Meeko Johnson and Isaac Johnson, Appellants v. STATE of Mississippi, Appellee
CourtMississippi Court of Appeals





¶ 1. Trevontae Johnson, Meekco1 Johnson, and Isaac Johnson2 appeal separate judgments of the Circuit Court of Washington County adjudicating each of them guilty of Count I, burglary of a dwelling; Count II, armed robbery; and Count III, kidnapping. Meekco also appeals his additional conviction of Count IV, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The circuit court sentenced Trevontae, Meekco, and Isaac to separate consecutive terms of twenty-five years for burglary, thirty-eight years for armed robbery, and thirty years for kidnapping. Meekco was also sentenced to an additional consecutive term of ten years for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. All sentences for each Appellant were ordered to be served in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Matthew Moore and Keagan Latham were indicted along with the Appellants, and Moore was tried with them. However, the jury found him not guilty of all counts. Latham was not tried with the Appellants, although he testified during their trial while charges against him were still pending.

¶ 2. On appeal, Trevontae maintains that the trial court erred in refusing to allow a police investigative report into evidence for the purpose of impeaching one of the State's witnesses. He also contends that the jury's verdict is against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Meekco asserts that the trial court erred in denying a motion to suppress evidence and in placing limitations upon his right to present a defense.3 He also asserts that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Isaac asserts that the traffic stop of the motor vehicle in which he and Meekco were riding was illegal;4 that the exclusion of his rebuttal witness destroyed his right to a defense; that the jury was not properly instructed regarding a key sentencing enhancement; and that the trial was inherently unfair due to the prosecutor's comments allegedly vouching for the truthfulness of one of the State's witnesses.

¶ 3. We find no reversible error; therefore, we affirm the judgments of the circuit court.


¶ 4. During the early part of the night on April 8, 2013, police officers responded to a call from Wayne Barrett's residence in Greenville, Mississippi. Barrett, whose face was bruised and swollen, informed the police that his home had been burglarized and that he had been assaulted by three men. The incident began when a young man—whom Barrett recognized as a friend or relative of his former neighbors and later identified as fifteen-year-old Keagan Latham—knocked on Barrett's door and asked to use the phone. Barrett acquiesced; Latham briefly used the phone and left. A few minutes later, Barrett heard another knock on the door. When he went to answer, three different male individuals, who were armed and whom Barrett did not recognize, forced their way into his residence. The men assaulted Barrett and forced him to accompany them from room to room as they stole two laptop computers, several guns, a bag of change, Barrett's wallet, and an iPhone. The men carried the items out of Barrett's home using a blue comforter, which they had removed from Barrett's bed.

¶ 5. Barrett identified Latham to police, but was unable to identify the other three men involved in the burglary. The following morning, on April 9, 2013, police took Latham's statement,5 in which he implicated Trevontae, Meekco, Isaac, and Moore in the burglary and described their appearances. Latham also informed police that most of the stolen items had been taken to a certain residence on Ada Drive in Greenville. The police subsequently began preparing to obtain a search warrant for the Ada Drive residence.

¶ 6. Later that day, while the police were in the process of obtaining the search warrant, Sergeant Kenneth Redfield of the Greenville Police Department began conducting surveillance of the Ada Drive residence, with two fellow officers—Officer Andy Osbun and Officer Chris Surf—positioned nearby in their patrol cars. Sergeant Redfield testified at trial that he, along with the other officers involved in the matter, had been previously made aware of the suspects' names and general descriptions and that on the morning of April 9, 2013, he had received photos of the suspects from a group-text-message thread between members of the police department who were involved in this particular matter.6 Around noon, Sergeant Redfield noticed two individuals, matching the description and photographs of two of the suspects, leaving the Ada Drive residence in a blue Chevrolet Impala. Officer Redfield transmitted this information to Officers Osbun and Surf and informed them as to the direction that the Impala was traveling. Shortly after, Officer Osbun spotted the Impala and conducted a traffic stop. Officer Osbun later testified that he did not observe the men in the Impala breaking any laws prior to the stop; rather, the reason for the stop was "to just identify the people" in the Impala. Officer Osbun also testified that he did not see photographs of the suspects until after the traffic stop was conducted. Officer Surf arrived shortly thereafter to assist Officer Osbun.

¶ 7. Officer Osbun asked the driver for identification. The driver handed an identification card, not a driver's license, to Officer Osbun, identifying himself as Isaac Johnson. The passenger verbally identified himself as DeWayne Jordan, but Officer Osbun later learned that the passenger was Meekco Johnson. Officer Osbun instructed the two men to exit the vehicle, then asked for permission to search it. Officers Osbun and Surf both contended that Isaac consented to Officer Osbun's request to search. Officer Osbun searched the Impala and found two laptop computers in the trunk, which matched the description of those that had previously been stolen from Barrett's residence. As Officer Osbun was taking the computers to his patrol car, Isaac and Meekco jumped back into the Impala and drove away. Officers Osbun and Surf briefly pursued the Impala before losing sight of it. They reported the incident to Sergeant Redfield, who shortly thereafter saw the Impala pull behind some nearby apartments. Sergeant Redfield exited his vehicle and was walking behind the apartments, when suddenly he came upon Meekco and Isaac, standing by the Impala. Meekco and Isaac began running.

¶ 8. Shortly after this incident, the search warrant for the Ada Drive residence was finally obtained. Police went to the house, saw someone peeking through the blinds, commanded the person to exit the home, and then forcefully broke the door. Inside was a female and several children. The police searched the house and found multiple guns, all of which had been reported stolen from Barrett's home. The police also found a blue comforter matching the one that was stolen from Barrett's home.

¶ 9. Later that day, Barrett came to the police station and identified the recovered guns as his own. However, he was unable to identify the suspects in the photo lineups presented to him. Meekco, Trevontae, and Isaac were ultimately brought into police custody and charged.

¶ 10. Police submitted the guns obtained from the Ada Drive residence to the Mississippi Crime Laboratory for fingerprint analysis. Forensic scientist Mike Hood testified as an expert in latent fingerprint examination. Through Hood, the State introduced a forensic report indicating that a latent palm print was recovered from two of the guns obtained from the Ada Drive residence. The police submitted known fingerprints of Meekco, Isaac, Trevontae, Moore, and Latham. Through another forensic scientist, Jamie Bush, the State introduced a forensic report indicating that Isaac's known right palm print matched a latent print on one of the guns.

¶ 11. Meekco filed a pretrial motion to suppress the identification and evidence obtained by Officer Osbun during the stop on the basis that the stop was illegally conducted because the officers had no reasonable suspicion to conduct it. The trial court held a hearing and denied the motion, finding that the stop was lawful.

¶ 12. At trial, Barrett acknowledged that he was unable to identify Meekco, Isaac, and Trevontae in photo lineups the day after the incident. However, Barrett identified the three defendants at trial. Latham also testified at trial and identified Trevontae, Isaac, and Meekco as those who were involved in the burglary.

¶ 13. Trevontae, Isaac, and Meekco were convicted of the burglary, armed robbery, and kidnapping of Barrett. They each filed post-trial motions, which the circuit denied, leading to this appeal.


1. Whether the Trial Court Erred in Refusing to Allow into Evidence a Police Report for the Purpose of Impeaching Latham

¶ 14. Trevontae argues that the trial court erred in refusing to allow a police report into evidence for the purpose of impeaching Latham, one of the State's witnesses in this case. Similarly, Meekco argues that "[t]he trial court violated his constitutional right to present a defense and to a fair trial by precluding the defense from cross-examining Latham about, and impeaching his testimony with, prior inconsistent statements in [Investigator Steven] O'Neal's report or Latham's recorded statement to Officer Arendale."

¶ 15. "The standard of review for the admission or exclusion of evidence is abuse of discretion." Williams v. State , 54 So.3d 212, 213 (¶ 5) (Miss. 2011) (citation omitted). "The trial court's decision will stand...

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