Pinkney v. State, DP-76

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Citation538 So.2d 329
Docket NumberNo. DP-76,DP-76
PartiesBobby Joe PINKNEY v. STATE of Mississippi.
Decision Date14 December 1988

Page 329

538 So.2d 329
STATE of Mississippi.
No. DP-76.
Supreme Court of Mississippi.
Dec. 14, 1988.
Rehearing Denied Feb. 15, 1989.

Page 333

Isaac K. Byrd, Jr., James W. Craig, Byrd & Associates, Jackson, for appellant.

Edwin Lloyd Pittman and Mike Moore, Attys. Gen. by Marvin L. White, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., and Donald G. Barlow and Felicia C. Adams, Sp. Asst. Attys. Gen., Ed Peters, Dist. Atty., Jackson, for appellee.


SULLIVAN, Justice, for the Court:

Bobby Joe Pinkney was tried and convicted by the Circuit Court of Hinds County, Mississippi, for the capital murder of Tracey Thompkins Hickman. He was sentenced to death. From this conviction and sentence he appeals to this Court assigning multitudinous errors. We find no merit to any of his assignments and the conviction and sentence of death are affirmed.

On October 25, 1984, Betty Thompkins went to the home of her daughter, Tracey Thompkins Hickman. Her two grandchildren, Michael and Daniel, who were three and two respectively, let her into the house. Betty Thompkins was directed to the kitchen

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where she found her daughter, Tracey, lying in a pool of blood--obviously dead.

On December 7, 1984, an indictment was filed in the Circuit Court of Hinds County, Mississippi, charging Bobby Joe Pinkney with the capital murder of Tracey Hickman. The indictment charged that the murder was committed during the course of a burglary of her dwelling.

Numerous pre-trial motions were filed. Among them were a Motion for Continuance, a Motion to Suppress Statement, a Motion for Funds to Hire an Investigator, and a Motion for Private Psychiatric Examination and Testing. On July 11, 1985, a hearing was held on the suppression motion and Officers J.W. Stevens and William Turcotte testified for the State, while Pinkney himself testified for the defense. William Turcotte, James Davis, and William Leach testified in rebuttal for the prosecution. The trial judge denied the Motion to Suppress. He also denied the Motion for Continuance and Motion for Funds to Hire an Investigator and the Motion for Private Psychiatric Examination and Testing.

On June 20 and 26, 1985, a special venire was drawn. From the lengthy voir dire of this special venire and the qualification and selection of the jury numerous assignments of error have arisen.

At trial, Betty Thompkins, mother of Tracey T. Hickman, testified that on October 25, 1984, she went to her daughter's home. As Thompkins turned off of Highway 27 onto Burkes Road, she saw her daughter's car parked on the side of the road. She parked behind her daughter's vehicle and walked to Tracey's house. Her grandchildren let her into the house and directed her to the kitchen where she saw Tracey lying dead on the kitchen floor. Thompkins testified about the damage to the house and several photographs of the house and the scene were admitted into evidence.

During cross-examination, Thompkins testified that Tracey and her husband, Gary Hickman, had been separated for approximately three months at the time of Tracey's death. Thompkins also testified that an artificial plant, which had been on top of the wood burning heater, was missing from her daughter's home on October 25, 1984.

Hinds County Deputy Steve Bailey testified that he arrived at the Hickman home at about 1:55 p.m. on October 25, 1984, and took photographs of the house and the broken window in the dining room. Bailey stated there was dirt, which appeared to have come from a flower pot, in the den. A photograph of the kitchen and Tracey Hickman's body was admitted into evidence as were some photographs showing the bloodstains on the kitchen walls and floor.

Bailey testified that he had photographed some footprints outside the home and made a plaster of paris cast of one of these prints. Bailey also testified that he had taken photographs at the autopsy of Tracey T. Hickman and these photographs were admitted for identification. Through Bailey's testimony Tracey Hickman's clothing, and a nine pound wood splitting maul were also admitted for identification.

After the testimony of Bailey, in chambers Pinkney expressed his dissatisfaction with the all white jury which had been empaneled.

The prosecution next called Hinds County Deputy Gavin Davis who testified that he had interviewed Gary Hickman and Milton Blair. Davis discovered that a wood splitting maul, which belonged to Blair was missing from Hickman's shed. According to Davis, this maul was easily identified because it had a homemade hickory handle. Davis found the maul in Five Mile Creek and took possession of it.

Milton Blair testified for the prosecution that he often let Gary Hickman borrow tools and other items of personal property. According to Blair he had stored some of his tools in Hickman's shed and his wood splitting maul (which had been stored there) was missing. Blair identified the maul which had been found in Five Mile Creek as his.

Ozell Carson testified that at about 9:00 p.m. on October 24, 1984, Tracey Hickman's automobile broke down in front of his home. Carson was unable to siphon

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any gas out of his truck for Hickman. Carson, his wife, and his stepson pushed Hickman's car out of the road so that it would not cause an accident. Carson then got two gallons of gasoline for Hickman from his brother.

Carson said that Bobby Joe Pinkney stopped at the scene and began talking to Tracey Hickman. After the conversation Pinkney left and later returned with David Richards, who worked on Hickman's car. The car cranked, died again, and was pushed down the highway to J.C. Carson's driveway. At this point Ozell Carson returned to his house.

Hinds County Investigator William Turcotte testified that on the afternoon of October 25, 1984, he went to the Hickman house on Cook Road and secured the scene and collected items of potential evidentiary value. According to Turcotte, Gavin Davis was looking for a wood splitting maul which was known to be missing from the Hickman residence.

On October 26, 1984, Turcotte attempted to find Pinkney. That afternoon Pinkney was picked up at his house by Officers Leach and Stevens. According to Turcotte, Leach and Stevens met Turcotte and Davis at the intersection of Old Highway # 3 and Highway # 27. Pinkney was with Leach and Stevens. Turcotte said that he carefully explained to Pinkney his Miranda rights and Pinkney admitted helping Tracey Hickman with her car at about 10:30 on the night of her death. Turcotte said that the officers then returned to Pinkney's house where Pinkney gave his written consent to a search of his car. Pinkney voluntarily produced a pair of work boots, the tread of which resembled the impression found at the Hickman house. The boots appeared to be splattered with blood. The boots were then identified and admitted into evidence.

According to Turcotte the floor mat of Pinkney's car contained what appeared to be a bloodstain and bone fragments. A piece of the floor mat was identified and admitted into evidence.

After the search of Pinkney's automobile, Pinkney was arrested. Turcotte again advised Pinkney of his Miranda rights and Pinkney confessed on the way to the sheriff's office. It is sufficient to note that through Turcotte's testimony a tape recorded confession was admitted into evidence. The transcript of this recording was admitted for identification and the tape was played for the jury. A signed confession was also admitted into evidence and read to the jury.

Joe Andrews, a forensic scientist with the Mississippi Crime Laboratory, testified that he compared hair samples found on the wood splitting maul with known samples from Tracey Hickman. Andrews testified that those samples could have had a common origin. Andrews explained that hair samples, unlike fingerprints, are not susceptible to precise identification and analysis.

Larry Turner, a forensic serologist with the Mississippi Crime Laboratory, testified that he analyzed stains from Pinkney's floor mat and the wood splitting maul and determined that the stains were human blood.

Dr. Rodrigo Galvez, a pathologist and psychiatrist, testified that on October 25, 1984, he performed the autopsy on the body of Tracey Hickman. Through Galvez' testimony the autopsy pictures were admitted into evidence.

Galvez said the body was badly bruised and the skull was like a "crushed eggshell." He further testified that in addition to the large cuts in Tracey Hickman's head, there were numerous smaller lacerations. The wound in the right side of the head was, according to Galvez, almost perfectly square. Three drawings which are Dr. Galvez' depictions of possible weapons were admitted into evidence.

According to Galvez, any of the three blows to the head could have caused death. Dr. Galvez testified that the bruises on the body were caused before death as a corpse will not bruise. Dr. Galvez said that since the blood had pooled under decedent's back and buttocks, she was lying on her back when she was killed. Dr. Galvez estimated the time of death to be approximately 9:30

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p.m., October 24, but allowed himself five hours leeway.

The State rested and defense counsel made an opening statement in which it was contended that Pinkney's confessions were involuntary and not to be believed.

David Richards testified for Pinkney that on October 24, 1984, he was at Lena Mae Hartfield's Cafe drinking beer when Bobby Joe Pinkney came in. Pinkney took Richards to fix the Hickman car. Richards testified that he could not keep the car cranked and that Bobby Joe Pinkney and Tracey Hickman drove off in Pinkney's car. Pinkney and Hickman returned approximately twenty minutes later and Richards and Pinkney got Hickman's car started and she drove away. Richards said that Pinkney took him home at about 12:00 o'clock midnight. Richards equivocated and finally admitted that it could have been as early as 11:30 p.m. when Pinkney dropped him off at home.


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