Spencer v. State, No. 89-KA-1242

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtDAN M. LEE; ROBERTSON; SULLIVAN, J., concurs in part and dissents in part by separate written opinion, joined by ROY NOBLE LEE; BANKS, J., concurs by separate written opinion, joined by ROY NOBLE LEE, C.J., and joined in part by SULLIVAN; ROBERTSON;
Citation592 So.2d 1382
PartiesFerrall T. SPENCER v. STATE of Mississippi.
Decision Date31 December 1991
Docket NumberNo. 89-KA-1242

Page 1382

592 So.2d 1382
Ferrall T. SPENCER
v.
STATE of Mississippi.
No. 89-KA-1242.
Supreme Court of Mississippi.
Dec. 31, 1991.

Page 1383

John T. Haltom, Indianola, for appellant.

Mike C. Moore, Atty. Gen., Deirdre McCrory, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Jackson, for appellee.

Before DAN M. LEE, P.J., and BANKS and McRAE, JJ.

DAN M. LEE, Presiding Justice, for the Court:

This appeal concerns a crime committed by an inmate on the prison grounds in Parchman, Mississippi. The appellant, Ferrall

Page 1384

T. Spencer, was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. After a trial by a jury of his peers in the Sunflower County Circuit Court, Ferrall T. Spencer was convicted of the lesser included offense of possession of cocaine. Spencer was sentenced to three years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections, said sentence to run consecutive to any sentence he was then serving. Additionally, Spencer was fined $10,000.00 and was ordered to pay court costs in the amount of $822.50.

Now Spencer appeals his conviction and sentence to this Court alleging denial of his right to a speedy trial as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Upon careful consideration of the law and the record in this case, we find no violation of the appellant's Sixth Amendment right and thereby affirm the conviction and sentence entered by the Sunflower County Circuit Court.

FACTS

On April 21, 1988, Mr. James Williams and his wife, Terry, walked into the Greenwood Police Station carrying a shoe box which had been wrapped in brown paper. The package was addressed to "Mr. Jamie Williams, P.O. Box 41, Greenwood, Miss. 38930." Although the record is not completely clear on this point, it appears that James and Terry Williams received the package by way of a United Parcel Service (UPS) delivery, although the package had a post office address listed for the addressee. Mr. and Mrs. Williams were not expecting a package, but nevertheless, they opened it. They found a pair of new Nike tennis shoes, and inside one of the shoes they found medicine bottles which contained a total of four bags of a white powdery substance.

When Mr. and Mrs. Williams walked into the police station with their discovery, they met Detective Melvin Andrews who immediately took the box to the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics division located in Greenwood and turned it over to agent Artie Hitchins.

Agent Hitchins employed a little basic detective work by looking up the name "Jamie Williams" in the Greenwood telephone book. He found another listing under this name. He then enlisted the help of the secretary in the office and had her call the telephone number listed for the other "Jamie Williams." The secretary called the number and reached a female on the other end. The secretary identified herself as a "Brenda Williams" and explained that she had received a package in the mail by mistake and asked the woman if she was expecting a package. The woman stated that they were expecting a package and seemed anxious to receive it. The secretary told the lady that she was having her car serviced at a Gulf service station and would be there for a few minutes. The female on the other end stated that her husband would be right along to retrieve the package. The service station was located directly across the street from the Bureau of Narcotics office in Greenwood. The secretary went to the station with the package which had been rewrapped while other agents set up surveillance. Shortly, a gentleman arrived and approached the secretary. He fit the description given to the secretary by the female voice on the phone. The secretary and the gentleman exchanged some small talk, and she asked him for some identification before turning over the package. He produced a check stub, and she gave him the package. The gentleman thanked the secretary and returned to his car. As he was getting into his car, the narcotics agents moved in and arrested him. After the arrest, all parties went back across the street to the Bureau of Narcotics office.

It was soon learned that the gentleman who had just been arrested was Officer Jamie Williams, who was employed as a

Page 1385

guard at Parchman. 1 Officer Williams agreed to cooperate with the authorities in any way that he could. Williams told the narcotics officials that the package was intended for inmate Ferrall Spencer. According to Williams, he agreed that he would receive a package from Spencer's father and deliver it to Spencer at the penitentiary.

Next, the Bureau of Narcotics officials had Officer Williams to telephone inmate Ferrall Spencer at Parchman. This conversation was tape recorded and entered into evidence at trial. In the taped conversation, Williams asked Spencer if he wanted the package. Spencer replied that he did and confirmed that he was going to pay Williams two hundred dollars ($200.00) for his efforts in helping to smuggle the package. Williams told Spencer that he would bring in the package that night when he reported for his midnight duty shift at the prison.

The Bureau coordinated several points with the corrections officials at Parchman. When Officer Williams reported for work that night on the midnight shift, he was wired with a transmitter. Corrections officials made arrangements for Agent Hitchins to dress in a prisoner's outfit so that he could enter the compound and watch the transaction. Another corrections officer and narcotics officer were stationed with Agent Hitchins. These three officers carried a transmitter so they could hear Williams' conversation with Spencer. And, another surveillance team of law enforcement officials listened from a van parked in a near-by parking lot.

Officer Williams reported for roll call at 12:00 midnight as scheduled. Agent Hitchins and the two other officials carried the package to a cafeteria on the compound and hid in the cafeteria. At approximately 12:40 a.m., Officer Williams got Ferrall Spencer out of the cage and escorted Spencer to the dining hall. Williams took a few steps, retrieved the package from a table top and gave it to Spencer. Agent Hitchins was positioned behind Williams and Spencer, and from his position he could see everything. At this point the lights were still off in the dining hall, but there was a considerable amount of outside light which reflected inside. Inmate Spencer gave Officer Williams $200.00 and then proceeded to open the package. When Spencer got to the cocaine, he immediately noticed that he had been shorted three bags of cocaine and started asking about the rest of his cocaine. 2 When Agent Hitchins and company heard Spencer begin complaining about being shorted, they stepped from their hiding position, hit the lights and arrested Spencer on the spot. Both Agent Hitchins and Williams stated that Spencer was holding the vial containing the cocaine in his left hand when Agent Hitchins and the others stepped from behind a wall and arrested Spencer.

Additionally, Officer Williams testified that, to his knowledge, no one else was involved in the cocaine smuggling. In other words, he dealt only with Spencer on this occasion and had no other conversations with anyone else.

For his defense, Spencer put on inmate Randy Green. Green had been Spencer's inmate neighbor for two or three years. Green is serving a life sentence for murder. The State of Texas is waiting to take custody of Green for convictions of capital murder, murder, and armed robbery upon his release in Mississippi. Green testified that the entire smuggling plan was his idea. According to Green, the cocaine was for his

Page 1386

own personal consumption and he used Spencer as a conduit. Inmate Green stated that Officer Williams was supposed to bring the cocaine to him, not Spencer, and that he had at least three conversations with Williams to this effect. Green stated he was responsible for having the package sent, and his testimony was that Spencer wanted no part of the plan when Spencer learned that cocaine was involved. Green said that he threatened Spencer to get him to follow through with the plan. Randy Green also stated that the $200.00 used to pay Williams came from him. 3

Ferrall Spencer testified on his own behalf. Spencer stated that he got involved only when Officer Williams passed along an address for Spencer to give to Green. This address was supposed to be the address where Officer Williams wanted the package delivered. Spencer stated he wanted no part in the deal when he later learned that cocaine was involved, but he followed through because he was afraid that Green would hurt him.

Further, Spencer testified that when the narcotics officers appeared from behind the wall and made the arrest, he did not have the cocaine in his hand. He alleged that he did not touch the cocaine. "I never touched the box on the table. It was still on the table when he came out." He also stated that he did not pay Officer Williams the $200.00 smuggling fee.

I. DID THE TRIAL COURT ERR IN OVERRULING SPENCER'S MOTION TO

DISMISS IN THAT HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO A

SPEEDY TRIAL WAS DENIED?

PROCEDURAL FACTS

Ferrall Spencer was arrested on April 23, 1988. He was indicted in June of 1988 by the grand jury, and the indictment was filed of record on September 29, 1988. Arraignment occurred on April 24, 1989. 4 Thus, arraignment occurred one year and one day after the arrest. On the same day of arraignment, April 24, 1989, Spencer was appointed counsel. Once appointed, Spencer's trial counsel did not delay representation and immediately filed discovery motions and a motion for continuance. An order granting the continuance was entered on June 8, 1989. Trial commenced on October 12, 1989. Spencer made his first demand for a trial on October 11, 1989, at a pre-trial hearing held one day prior to trial.

ANALYSIS

The right to a speedy trial has been described as a "vague concept" compared to other procedural rights making it impossible to...

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32 practice notes
  • De La Beckwith v. State, Nos. 94-KA-00402-SC
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • December 22, 1997
    ...trial is not waived by silence, "this does not mean that the defendant has no responsibility to assert his right." Spencer v. State, 592 So.2d 1382, 1388 (Miss.1991). Beckwith did not assert his right to a third trial and this factor must be weighed against ¶65 Beckwith need not prove actua......
  • Winder v. State, Nos. 89-KA-00911
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • June 30, 1994
    ...is best served by dismissing charges in serious crimes because of the mere passage of time has been debated. Compare Spencer v. State, 592 So.2d 1382, 1391 (Robertson, J., concurring) with Spencer, 592 So.2d at 1394 (Banks, J., Surely the first concern, freedom from oppressive incarceration......
  • Mitchell v. State, No. 1998-DP-01785-SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • March 29, 2001
    ...instant case is as follows: A. Length of delay. ¶ 72. "This first step under Barker acts as a `triggering mechanism.' Spencer v. State, 592 So.2d 1382, 1387 (Miss.1991); Smith v. State, 550 So.2d 406, 408 (Miss.1989). If the delay is not presumptively prejudicial there is no need for furthe......
  • Ben v. State, No. 2009–CT–01495–SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • August 23, 2012
    ...S.Ct. 2182. ¶ 18. Ordinarily, a defendant's failure to assert his right to a speedy trial weighs heavily against him. Spencer v. State, 592 So.2d 1382, 1394 (Miss.1991) (Banks, J., concurring) (citing Adams v. State, 583 So.2d 165 (Miss.1991)). Indeed, this Court has “repeatedly held that a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
32 cases
  • De La Beckwith v. State, Nos. 94-KA-00402-SC
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • December 22, 1997
    ...trial is not waived by silence, "this does not mean that the defendant has no responsibility to assert his right." Spencer v. State, 592 So.2d 1382, 1388 (Miss.1991). Beckwith did not assert his right to a third trial and this factor must be weighed against ¶65 Beckwith need not prove actua......
  • Winder v. State, Nos. 89-KA-00911
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • June 30, 1994
    ...is best served by dismissing charges in serious crimes because of the mere passage of time has been debated. Compare Spencer v. State, 592 So.2d 1382, 1391 (Robertson, J., concurring) with Spencer, 592 So.2d at 1394 (Banks, J., Surely the first concern, freedom from oppressive incarceration......
  • Mitchell v. State, No. 1998-DP-01785-SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • March 29, 2001
    ...instant case is as follows: A. Length of delay. ¶ 72. "This first step under Barker acts as a `triggering mechanism.' Spencer v. State, 592 So.2d 1382, 1387 (Miss.1991); Smith v. State, 550 So.2d 406, 408 (Miss.1989). If the delay is not presumptively prejudicial there is no need for furthe......
  • Ben v. State, No. 2009–CT–01495–SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • August 23, 2012
    ...S.Ct. 2182. ¶ 18. Ordinarily, a defendant's failure to assert his right to a speedy trial weighs heavily against him. Spencer v. State, 592 So.2d 1382, 1394 (Miss.1991) (Banks, J., concurring) (citing Adams v. State, 583 So.2d 165 (Miss.1991)). Indeed, this Court has “repeatedly held that a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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