Taylor v. State, No. 90-DP-01346-SCT

CourtMississippi Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPITTMAN; DAN M. LEE; SULLIVAN, P.J., concurs in part and dissents in part with separate written opinion joined by BANKS; SMITH, J., concurs in part and dissents in part with separate written opinion joined by JAMES L. ROBERTS, Jr.; DAN M. LEE; SULLIV
Citation672 So.2d 1246
Decision Date25 April 1996
Docket NumberNo. 90-DP-01346-SCT
PartiesC.W. TAYLOR v. STATE of Mississippi.

Page 1246

672 So.2d 1246
C.W. TAYLOR
v.
STATE of Mississippi.
No. 90-DP-01346-SCT.
Supreme Court of Mississippi.
April 25, 1996.

Page 1252

Appeal No. F319 from Judgment dated August 1, 1990, L. Breland Hilburn Jr. Ruling Judge, Hinds County Circuit Court, First Judicial District.

Jim Kitchens, Kitchens & Ellis, Jackson, Connie Johnson, Houma, LA; John Holdridge, New Orleans, LA, for appellant.

Michael C. Moore, Attorney General, Marvin L. White, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, Charlene R. Pierce, Sp. Asst. Attorney General, Jackson, for appellee.

ON PETITION FOR REHEARING

En Banc.

PITTMAN, Justice, for the Court:

Petitions for Rehearing denied. The original opinions are withdrawn and these opinions are substituted therefor.

This appeal comes from the First Judicial District of the Circuit Court of Hinds County, Mississippi. C.W. Taylor (hereafter referred to as "Taylor") was indicted and reindicted three times, the last being for the crime of capital murder while under a life sentence, in violation of Miss.Code Ann. § 97-3-19(2)(b) (1972). This final indictment also charged Taylor as an habitual offender pursuant to Miss.Code Ann. § 99-19-81 (1972). After several substitutions of defense counsel, an interim conviction for aggravated assault, and a change of venue to Hancock County, Mississippi, Taylor was found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to death.

THE FACTS

The facts of the case were adduced at trial solely through the evidence offered by the State. The defendant neither took the stand nor offered any evidence in the guilt phase of the trial.

Page 1253

The Disappearance

On the morning of Saturday, July 11, 1987, twenty-two year old Mildred Spires worked at her job at a grocery across town from her home. In the early afternoon, she returned to the home she shared with her mother, Edith Taylor, and her 17 year old sister, Melissa Spires.

Between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., Mildred received a telephone call from Taylor, her mother's estranged husband, and they had a discussion about a "pipe," a car part. She was heard to ask him how she would know how the pipe looked and where it would be in the back part of the garage, where he kept tools and parts. After the phone call, Mildred announced to Melissa that she was going to get gas for her car. Melissa gave her money and asked Mildred to bring back some Doritos Ranch chips.

Mildred left the house wearing Calvin Klein jeans, a t-shirt with the word "physical" printed on the front of it in red, white sandals, a gold chain and a watch. After Mildred had walked out of the house, Taylor telephoned and asked Melissa if Mildred had left yet.

Before Mildred drove off in her car, she went to the garage at the back of the house. Melissa saw her come out of the garage but could not see whether or not she was carrying a car part. Mildred drove off in her car, a reddish-orange 1973 or 1974 Chevrolet Malibu with a beige top and a green door on the passenger side. Mildred was never seen alive again by her family.

The Search

When Spires' mother, Edith Taylor, returned home from work around 6:00 p.m. on July 11, 1987, she became concerned about Mildred's not having returned home. By about 8:00 p.m., she was very concerned because it was very unlike Mildred to be gone from home so long. About 3:00 a.m. of the morning of July 12, Edith Taylor told her daughter Melissa that she "had to start looking" for Mildred. Mildred's father, Johnny Spires, Sr., joined Edith Taylor and Melissa Spires in the search for Mildred. The three looked for Mildred first at Taylor's house and, not finding her there, at various motels. Edith Taylor was convinced that Mildred "was with [Taylor], that he had her." She thought this because Taylor had twice called Mildred earlier on the telephone and asked her to meet him.

The three were unsuccessful in their efforts to locate Mildred, and around noon on Sunday, Edith reported Mildred's disappearance to the police. She spoke to Jackson Police Department Detective Patsy Knowles.

Family Relations and Events Preceding Disappearance

Shortly after their marriage in 1984, Edith and Taylor moved to the Magnolia Street home where Edith and her two daughters were living at the time of Mildred's disappearance. In the latter part of May 1987, Edith filed for a divorce from Taylor and within days, Taylor moved out of the Magnolia Street house and into a house on Columbus Street in the same neighborhood. Between the time he moved out and the time Mildred disappeared, there continued to be contact between Taylor and Edith, Mildred, and Melissa. On the Wednesday and Thursday before Mildred disappeared, Taylor had, at Edith's request, gone to the Magnolia Street home and repaired the brakes on Mildred's car. On the day of Mildred's disappearance, Taylor had, at about 3:00 p.m., gone to the beauty shop where Edith worked and insisted on talking with her. When she refused, he left angry. When he telephoned her about five minutes later, using profane language and insisting that she talk with him, she hung up on him.

In June of 1987, Taylor talked with Stanley Evans, an employee of the laundromat which he used. Evans had worked at the laundromat since his release from Parchman and had seen Taylor in the business but had not known him by name and had engaged in no conversation with him until that date. Taylor told Evans that "he had a good woman but they were going to get a divorce ..." Taylor got "madder and madder" as he and Evans talked about women and told Evans that "he had to find a way to get even with--that bitch," meaning his wife. Evans quoted Taylor as saying:

Page 1254

[H]e said, "I know, he said" he said, "She love them girls so much," he said, "I can do something to one of them daughters." He said, "I can do something to them daughters," and he said she loved them--"she loved them so much that would be the ticket." He said, "That will be it."

After Mildred's body was found, Evans recounted this conversation to the police.

The Investigation and C.W. Taylor's Activities Between July

11, 1987 and September 1, 1987

Taylor spent most of the day of July 11, 1987, with his girlfriend, Fairy Warren. They went to garage sales until about 3:00 p.m. Shortly after they left the last garage sale, his car ran hot and he had to get somebody to "boost him off." He drove Warren to her home and left. He telephoned her at 7:00 p.m. and suggested that they get dressed and go out. He went to her house about fifteen or twenty minutes later and they went out to a restaurant. When they left the restaurant they stopped by her sister-in-law's house to pick up her children, but the children "had already made it back to the house." They then drove to Taylor's home to pick up a fan to take to Warren's house. After Taylor returned to the car with the fan, his car wouldn't start so they walked from his house to Warren's. Taylor stayed the night with Warren; he slept in his clothes and was gone when she arose. He returned to her house on foot about 10:00 a.m. with a starter for his car. Warren asked about scratches on his face and he told her that he and Edith had been in a fight at his house. Taylor left Warren and when he came back, he had a note from the police which had been left on his door.

On Sunday, July 12, Detective Patsy Knowles began the investigation into Mildred Spires' disappearance after leaving Edith's house. Detective Knowles went to Taylor's home, and finding no one there, left a note for him to call her. He telephoned her about 5:00 p.m. from Fairy Warren's house. Taylor told Detective Knowles that his estranged wife thought he had something to do with Mildred's disappearance. In response to Detective Knowles's questions about where he had been during the weekend, Taylor said he had been with Fairy Warren. When asked about any contact or conversation with Mildred Spires, he said that he had talked to Mildred but that she had not shown up at his house to bring an auto part as he had asked. At Detective Knowles' request, Warren accompanied Taylor to police headquarters and, as they got out of the elevator there, he told Warren that if asked about the scratches on his face, she should say she put them there.

Detective Knowles noticed what appeared to be fresh scratches on Taylor's face and his right hand; she asked him to take off his shirt and observed what appeared to be fresh claw marks on his chest. When Detective Knowles asked for an explanation of the scratches, Taylor said that he and Warren had had an argument early Saturday morning over a woman; he had slapped Warren, and that she had scratched him. When Detective Knowles questioned Taylor, she pointed out to him that if he had anything to do with Spires's disappearance, his fingerprints would be on Spires' car. During questioning of Warren, when Detective Knowles pointed out that Warren's nails were not long enough to scratch, Warren changed her story. Warren told Knowles that she had not scratched Taylor and that he had asked her when they were in the elevator to say she had done so. Warren said she had lied for Taylor because she was afraid of him. When she left the police department, Warren went to work. Taylor later telephoned Warren and asked her what she had told Detective Knowles. She told him that she had told the detective that she had not put any scratches on him. Taylor had told Warren that "somebody that he was messing around with" had put the scratches on him, "[a] girl named Tiffany, or somebody, I don't know, work on Minerva Street."

When Detective Knowles confronted Taylor with what Fairy Warren had told her, he told Knowles that it was Tammy or Tiffy, a prostitute living on Minerva Street who had scratched him. When Detective Knowles asked Taylor to accompany her to Minerva Street to verify his story, they went to a

Page 1255

duplex pointed out by Taylor and spoke to Tammy Robertson, who answered the door. Taylor said that Tammy Robertson was not the person...

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243 practice notes
  • Johnson v. State, NO. 2008-CT-00537-SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 30 Junio 2011
    ...708 So. 2d 1327 (Miss. 1998); Hull v. State, 687 So. 2d 708 (Miss. 1996); Skaggs v. State, 676 So. 2d 897 (Miss. 1996); Taylor v. State, 672 So. 2d 1246 (Miss. 1996); McGhee v. State, 657 So. 2d 799 (Miss. 1995); Giles v. State, 650 So. 2d 846 (Miss. 1995); Rhymes v. State, 638 So. 2d 1270 ......
  • Flowers v. State, NO. 2010–DP–01348–SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 2 Noviembre 2017
    ...1999) ; Woodward v. State , 726 So.2d 524, 540 (Miss. 1997) ; Foster v. State , 687 So.2d 1124, 1140 (Miss. 1996) ; Taylor v. State , 672 So.2d 1246, 1275 (Miss. 1996) ; Walker v. State , 671 So.2d 581, 611 (Miss. 1995) ; Carr v. State , 655 So.2d 824, 853–54 (Miss. 1995) ; Chase v. State ,......
  • Hutto v. State, NO. 2014-DP-00177-SCT.
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • 11 Mayo 2017
    ...no evidence regarding the length of time Simpson remained conscious during the assault that ended her life. He points to Taylor v. State, 672 So.2d 1246, 1275–76 (Miss. 1996), and Lockett v. Puckett, 980 F.Supp. 201, 228 (S.D. Miss. 1997), rev'd in part, appeal dismissed in part sub nom. Lo......
  • Brown v. State, No. 94-DP-00248-SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 15 Agosto 1996
    ...as to be prejudicial in only one circumstance, a close-up photograph of a partly decomposed, maggot-infested skull." Taylor v. State, 672 So.2d 1246, 1271 The pictures at issue, although certainly not pleasant to look at, are not comparable to those described in McNeal v. State, 551 So.2d 1......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
244 cases
  • Johnson v. State, NO. 2008-CT-00537-SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 30 Junio 2011
    ...708 So. 2d 1327 (Miss. 1998); Hull v. State, 687 So. 2d 708 (Miss. 1996); Skaggs v. State, 676 So. 2d 897 (Miss. 1996); Taylor v. State, 672 So. 2d 1246 (Miss. 1996); McGhee v. State, 657 So. 2d 799 (Miss. 1995); Giles v. State, 650 So. 2d 846 (Miss. 1995); Rhymes v. State, 638 So. 2d 1270 ......
  • Flowers v. State, NO. 2010–DP–01348–SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 2 Noviembre 2017
    ...1999) ; Woodward v. State , 726 So.2d 524, 540 (Miss. 1997) ; Foster v. State , 687 So.2d 1124, 1140 (Miss. 1996) ; Taylor v. State , 672 So.2d 1246, 1275 (Miss. 1996) ; Walker v. State , 671 So.2d 581, 611 (Miss. 1995) ; Carr v. State , 655 So.2d 824, 853–54 (Miss. 1995) ; Chase v. State ,......
  • Hutto v. State, NO. 2014-DP-00177-SCT.
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • 11 Mayo 2017
    ...no evidence regarding the length of time Simpson remained conscious during the assault that ended her life. He points to Taylor v. State, 672 So.2d 1246, 1275–76 (Miss. 1996), and Lockett v. Puckett, 980 F.Supp. 201, 228 (S.D. Miss. 1997), rev'd in part, appeal dismissed in part sub nom. Lo......
  • Brown v. State, No. 94-DP-00248-SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 15 Agosto 1996
    ...as to be prejudicial in only one circumstance, a close-up photograph of a partly decomposed, maggot-infested skull." Taylor v. State, 672 So.2d 1246, 1271 The pictures at issue, although certainly not pleasant to look at, are not comparable to those described in McNeal v. State, 551 So.2d 1......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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