Rooks v. State, 57591

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Citation529 So.2d 546
Docket NumberNo. 57591,57591
PartiesRonald J. ROOKS and Greg L. Montee v. STATE of Mississippi.
Decision Date11 May 1988

Page 546

529 So.2d 546
Ronald J. ROOKS and Greg L. Montee
STATE of Mississippi.
No. 57591.
Supreme Court of Mississippi.
May 11, 1988.
Rehearing Denied Aug. 10, 1988.

Page 548

Howard Dyer, III, Rabun Jones, Dyer, Dyer, Dyer & Jones, Greenville, Tommy McWilliams, Townsend, McWilliams & Holladay, Indianola, for appellants.

Edwin Lloyd Pittman and Mike Moore, Attys. Gen. by Deirdre D. McCrory, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Jackson, for appellee.


HAWKINS, Presiding Justice, for the Court:

This case involves an appeal from the Circuit Court of Leflore County wherein Ronald J. Rooks and Greg L. Montee were found guilty of possession of more than one kilogram of marijuana (156,567 grams). Rooks was sentenced to 20 years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) and ordered to pay a fine of $250,000. Montee was sentenced to serve a term of 20 years in MDOC and pay a fine of $100,000.

Rooks and Montee appeal assigning as error that certain evidence admitted at trial should have been suppressed, that the trials should have been severed, that venue was not proven, and that the State failed to make proper discovery. Finding no merit in any of these assignments, we affirm.


Mark Henderson was an employee of Better Flying, Inc., an aerial application business located on the southeast end of the taxiway at the Indianola airport. The Indianola airport is located four miles northwest of Indianola and has a concrete runway 7,000 feet long, which is longer than average for a town with this population. Around 11:00 a.m. on September 17, 1984, Henderson noticed a brown Oldsmobile approaching their business trailer. Henderson had two years training in criminal justice at Moorhead Junior College, had worked for the sheriff's office in Sunflower County as a radio dispatcher, and had ridden with patrolling officers, and had witnessed drug "pickups" and ensuing arrests. He became suspicious and watched the car and its two white male occupants. After the car turned almost completely around on the parking apron, the passenger stepped out. This man looked around and walked over behind the office into a grassy area, picked up two black garbage bags, carried them to the car and placed them in the trunk. The car then sped away from the airport. As the car left, Henderson recorded the Mississippi tag number: BPD 946. Henderson contacted Sunflower County Sheriff Jack Sessums, told him what he had seen, described the car and gave him the tag number. Because Henderson had watched the incident through some blinds, however, he could not give facial descriptions. He only knew they were two white males.

After Henderson's call, Sheriff Sessums determined from relaying the tag number to Jack Matthews, a dispatcher of the Mississippi Highway Patrol, that the car was registered to Mims Rental Agency in Greenwood. Sessums radioed his deputy Marvin Farmer to stop the car and detain the two men until he could get there. Farmer traveled to Highway 82, the main thoroughfare between Indianola and Greenwood to watch the traffic. The fourth car passing fit the description and had the tag number. Farmer stopped the car approximately one-half mile from where he had first spotted it. Montee was driving the car and Rooks was the passenger. Farmer asked Montee to see his driver's license, whereupon Montee stepped out of the car and asked what was wrong. Farmer asked again to see Montee's license, which Montee then gave him. Farmer then asked if he could search the car. Montee responded, "Sir, I don't have a key. If I did, you would still have to have a search warrant. I'm not going to open my trunk." He further informed Farmer that he had rented the car because he had a truck in Greenwood that was broken down. At this point Rooks stepped out of the car, dropped something, put his foot on it, turned with a movement similar to extinguishing a cigarette, then took a step toward Farmer. Farmer who had recently had back surgery was in fear of

Page 549

Montee and Rooks and therefore arrested them.

In the preliminary hearing to determine if the officers had probable cause for the subsequent searches, Farmer testified that before he had put the cuffs on Mr. Rooks, he bent down to pick up the key and that as he bent down, he smelled marijuana. Farmer communicated this information to Sheriff Sessums, who later arrived with a search warrant for the car. Using the key that Rooks had rubbed into the ground, the trunk was opened and the officers found two black garbage bags with duct tape around them containing marijuana.

Doug Petrari, of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (the Bureau), while in Jackson, heard conversations on the Civil Defense telephone between the Sunflower County Sheriff's Department and the Greenwood office of the Highway Patrol concerning the incident at the airport. He relayed this information to Agent Richard Oakes in the Greenwood area, who called Sheriff Sessums for more information. Oakes, after being informed about Henderson's observation, was told that the Oldsmobile was registered to Mims Rental Agency. Both Jack Matthews, the Mississippi State Patrol dispatcher, and Oakes separately talked with Betty Mims (Mims) of Mims Rental Agency. Mims informed Trooper Matthews and Oakes that around 10:00 or 10:30 a.m. Rooks had rented a brown 1984 Oldsmobile with tag number BPD 946. Rooks had told Mims that he was from Missouri and staying at the Holiday Inn in Greenwood. Mims also stated that when Rooks left, he motioned for someone to follow him. She looked out of a window and saw a black Chevrolet pickup with white camper and out of state tag follow Rooks.

Matthews called the Holiday Inn to determine if Rooks was registered there. He also asked the management at the Holiday Inn what the tag number of the vehicle was that Rooks had registered. Matthews then ran the Missouri tag number and relayed the information to the Sunflower County Sheriff's Office and to his supervisor.

When Oakes reached the car, which had been stopped around Moorhead, Sheriff Sessums was also arriving with a search warrant which produced the two bags of marijuana. Rooks and Montee were taken to Indianola where they were searched. In frisking Montee, Deputy Charles Smith found two keys to Room 403 at the Holiday Inn in Greenwood. Oakes then traveled to Greenwood where Judge Peeples granted a search warrant for the black Chevrolet Silverado pickup located at the Holiday Inn. Around 1:15 p.m. Artie Hitchins (Hitchins), of the Greenwood Police Department, was requested by Matthews to travel to the Holiday Inn to watch the pickup. Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks and Hitchins had walked up to the truck to examine it and could smell marijuana. They could also see many articles in the camper through cracks in the curtains. When Oakes arrived with a search warrant about 5:30 p.m., Hitchins opened the cab with a "slim jim." The officers had no key to the camper. They were informed by James Stevens, chief of the Greenwood Police Department, who also owned a camper of this model, that there were very few keys for this model camper. Stevens then used his key to open the camper. Upon opening the camper, there was a strong odor of marijuana. Because a crowd had gathered, the pickup was towed to the Leflore County Sheriff's Department to be inventoried.

In the rear of the truck, the officers found many articles, primarily 14 bags of marijuana containing a total weight of 156,567 grams or around 345.1 pounds. The marijuana had blankets lying across it. On top of the blankets were found bags containing identification of both Rooks and Montee. Also found in the back of the truck was a book listing all police frequencies nationwide, two radio scanners, two radios used to communicate on aircraft frequencies, a walkie-talkie, a citizens band radio, a radar detector, a sack with batteries, curtains, a life raft, a bladder auxiliary fuel tank for an airplane, three life jackets, a flare, two flashlights and blankets, folding lawn chairs, an empty gas can, step stool and articles of clothing. The scanners, when later checked to see what channels

Page 550

for which they were programmed, had been set for the frequencies of the Greenwood Police Department, the statewide police department channel, the statewide sheriff's department channel, the Sunflower sheriff's department, the Indianola police department and Mississippi Highway Patrol frequencies.

The next morning Oakes and Sheriff Banks transported the bags to the Mississippi Crime Lab in Batesville. Joe Lee Williams, of the Mississippi Crime Lab, determined that the substance was marijuana and determined that the total weight was 156,567 grams or around 345.1 pounds.

After the pickup was emptied and inventoried, Louis Grones, of the Greenwood Police Department, a fingerprint expert, thoroughly examined the pickup truck for fingerprints. He found Montee's prints on the outside of the window of the left door, on a cassette inside the truck, on a Cheeto's bag inside the truck and on an atlas inside the truck. He found Rooks's prints on the outside of the window on the right door. Grones further found both Rooks's and Montee's prints on duct tape used to hold the curtains to the windows inside the camper. On October 1, 1984, Grones and Oakes traveled to the Crime Lab to remove the outer bags from the marijuana in order to examine them for prints. Grones, however, did not thoroughly examine the bags for prints because too many people had handled them.

Both Rooks and Montee were indicted by the Leflore County grand jury for possession of the marijuana found in the pickup truck in Greenwood. On or about March 16, 1985, Rooks and Montee filed a joint discovery request. Thereafter, on March 22, 1985, the State responded to discovery by disclosing several items. Not included in the items were fingerprint evidence from the pickup. Rooks filed a motion to sever the trial...

To continue reading

Request your trial
33 cases
  • Smith v. State, 93-DP-01470-SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • December 10, 1998
    ...there was substantial basis for such a conclusion on behalf of the trial court. 729 So.2d 1205 McNeal, 617 So.2d at 1007; Rooks v. State, 529 So.2d 546, 554 (Miss.1988); Hansen v. State, 592 So.2d 114, 126 (Miss.1991). See also Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238-39, 103 S.Ct. 2317, 76 L.E......
  • Smith v. State, 93-DP-00821-SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • December 10, 1998
    ...a conclusion on behalf of the trial court. McNeal, 617 So.2d at 1007; Turner v. State, 573 So.2d 657, 665 (Miss.1990); Rooks v. State, 529 So.2d 546, 554 (Miss.1988); Hansen v. State, 592 So.2d 114, 126 s 124. In the case sub judice, there is more than substantial evidence to support the tr......
  • Bevill v. State, 03-DP-85
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • January 24, 1990
    ...that he had violated his parole. Page 710 Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 83 S.Ct. 407, 9 L.Ed.2d 441 (1963); Rooks v. State, 529 So.2d 546, 555 (Miss.1988); In re Hill, 460 So.2d 792, 803 (Miss.1984); Hill v. State, 432 So.2d 427, 435 (Miss.1983), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 977, 104 S......
  • Townsend v. State, 92-KA-01010-SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • August 1, 1996 officer to believe that then and there contraband or evidence material to a criminal investigation would be found. Rooks v. State, 529 So.2d 546 (Miss.1988). Thus, a search may be made when circumstances surrounding the search incident to arrest indicate probable cause, and items may be ......
  • 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