Parks v. State, No. 2003-KA-00895-SCT.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Citation884 So.2d 738
Docket NumberNo. 2003-KA-00895-SCT.
PartiesJames PARKS v. STATE of Mississippi.
Decision Date16 September 2004

884 So.2d 738

STATE of Mississippi

No. 2003-KA-00895-SCT.

Supreme Court of Mississippi.

September 16, 2004.

884 So.2d 741
Thomas A. Coleman, Jackson, attorney for appellant

Office of the Attorney General by John R. Henry, attorney for appellee.


SMITH, Chief Justice, for the Court.

¶ 1. Indicted for armed robbery and capital murder, James Parks was tried and convicted by a jury in the Circuit Court of Attala County of (1) accessory after the fact to the crime of armed robbery and (2) kidnaping. Thereafter, the trial court entered judgment in accordance with the jury's verdict and sentenced Parks to consecutive sentences of five years imprisonment for the accessory charge and twenty-five years imprisonment for the kidnaping charge. Parks moved for a new trial or judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The court denied those motions.


¶ 2. On June 21, 2000, Parks met up with James Jones and Vincent Butler at a store in Goodman, Mississippi. They went to a friend's house in Durant. Two females, Latricia Wilson and Shelly Gray, got into the car. The group drove around in Durant. The girls wanted to buy and smoke a small amount of marijuana, so the group went to Calvin Haymon's house in Kosciusko to make the purchase. On the way to Haymon's house, Parks saw a gun in the car—it slid from tinder James Jones's seat. Parks picked the gun up and gave it to Jones.

¶ 3. When they arrived at the house, Jones went inside. He came out of the house talking on the phone, and a few minutes later, Haymon arrived. . Jones and Haymon walked behind a truck and began talking.

¶ 4. Yvonne Ellis arrived at the house to pick up Haymon. Haymon left the house; Parks and Butler joined Jones outside. Haymon came back with a white bag full of marijuana. Butler, Parks, and Jones inspected the marijuana.

¶ 5. According to Ellis, Butler then brandished two guns, and James Jones ordered Haymon and Ellis to empty their pockets and put their hands on the car. Ellis stated that there was neither provocation nor argument preceding the robbery. In his statement to the police, Parks said that Jones tried to give a gun to him. Parks stated that he gave the gun back to Jones. Haymon began to argue with Jones, but Ellis gave up his money. During the argument,, Jones told Haymon that "since your mouth is so big and since you keep running your mouth, you're going to take me to your stash."

¶ 6. Jones then ordered Haymon and Ellis into the back seat of a car. Haymon and Jones continued arguing. At this time, Ellis felt "something cold" against the back of his head and heard someone say, "don't move." He testified that the person holding the gun to his head was

884 So.2d 742
James Parks. While he did not see Parks holding the gun to his head, the only people with guns were Butler and Parks. Butler was in front of Ellis holding two guns. Jones was visible near the car arguing with Haymon. Parks then approached Haymon

¶ 7. Haymon eventually sat in the car in such a way that his back was turned to the inside of the car and his feet were on the ground outside. Parks tried to force him to sit properly in the seat. He pointed his gun at Haymon and "was trying to make Haymon slide over on the back seat." Jones and Haymon argued about whether Haymon would slide over. This argument continued for approximately twenty minutes. At that time, Ellis's brother arrived on the scene in another vehicle, and Parks was still holding Haymon at gunpoint in the backseat of the car. Jones approached the other vehicle and shot Ellis's brother. Parks was still holding Haymon at gunpoint in the car, but Ellis ran away. Parks got into the back seat with Haymon, and Butler got into the front seat with Jones.

¶ 8. Jones drove down the road and stopped the car to let Butler get out. Jones asked Haymon where the rest of his marijuana was hidden, and Haymon showed him where it was. Jones, Haymon, and Parks got out of the car. Haymon got the marijuana and gave it to Jones. Haymon begged Jones not to kill him. Jones shot Haymon three to four times. After shooting Haymon, Jones came back with about a pound of marijuana. Jones took Parks home. Parks stated that he did not know where the murder weapon was hidden.


I. Corpus delicti

¶ 9. "The standard of review regarding admission [or exclusion] of evidence is abuse of discretion. Where error involves the admission or exclusion of evidence, this Court `will not reverse unless the error adversely affects a substantial right of a party.'" Ladnier v. State, 878 So.2d 926 (Miss.2004) (quoting Whitten v. Cox, 799 So.2d 1, 13 (Miss.2000)).

¶ 10. As Parks correctly notes, "[c]orpus delicti is defined as the body or substance of the crime." Cotton v. State, 675 So.2d 308, 313 (Miss.1996). It has two elements which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order to show that a crime has actually been committed. Id. (citing Poole v. State, 246 Miss. 442, 446, 150 So.2d 429, 431 (1963)). First, it is necessary to prove the existence of a certain act or result forming the basis of a criminal charge. Id. Moreover, the State must prove the existence of criminal agency as the cause of this act or result. Id. The suspect's identity is not a component of the corpus delicti. Id. However, "[e]very element, criminal charge, and criminal agency must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. (quoting Poole, 246 Miss. at 446, 150 So.2d 429).

¶ 11. Parks refers this Court to the proposition that where a defendant confesses to a crime, the confession itself is not sufficient to support a felony conviction unless `it is corroborated by independent evidence of the corpus delicti. Hodge v. State, 823 So.2d 1162, 1166 (Miss.2002) (citing Cotton v. State, 675 So.2d 308, 314 (Miss.1996); Bullock v. State, 447 So.2d 1284, 1286 (Miss.1984); Steward v. State, 32 So.2d 791, 791 (Miss.1947); Pope v. State, 158 Miss. 794, 131 So. 264, 265 (1930)). However, where there is a confession, much slighter evidence is required to prove corpus delicti. Miskelley v. State, 480 So.2d 1104, 1108 (Miss.1985) (quoting Roberts v. State, 153 Miss. 622, 121 So. 279 (1929)). "The corpus delicti need not be established beyond a reasonable doubt but

884 So.2d 743
to a probability, and proof coupled with a confession may be considered as establishing the corpus delicti beyond a reasonable doubt." Id.

¶ 12. Parks argues that the State failed to establish the corpus delicti of kidnaping.1 He reasons that because the State failed to prove corpus delicti, the trial court erred in admitting his statement into evidence2.

¶ 13. We find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting Parks's statement. Parks advances no evidentiary or constitutional basis as to why his statement was inadmissible at trial. Parks concludes that because the State did not prove the corpus delicti of the crime of kidnaping, his statement was inadmissible. However, Parks does not offer any authority to support this proposition, and our research reveals none. The statement was freely given to the police; there is no indication in the record that it was the result of coercion. Moreover, the statement is relevant and more probative than prejudicial. See M.R.E. 401 & 403.

¶ 14. Moreover, it is true that the Court in Hodge held that a confession cannot support a felony conviction if there is no independent corroborating evidence of the corpus delicti. However, Parks's statement was not incriminating with respect to the kidnaping charge; thus, it, was not the statement itself which supported the jury verdict. Other evidence adduced at trial— specifically, Ellis's testimony—implicated Parks in the unlawful, forcible seizing and confinement of Haymon. In his statement, Parks did not admit to any element of kidnaping, but he did admit to riding in the car with Haymon and Jones after Haymon was forced inside. Parks never admitted that he held Haymon at gunpoint. In fact, he only admitted holding the gun long...

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