Williamson v. State

Citation330 So.2d 272
Decision Date13 April 1976
Docket NumberNo. 48830,48830
PartiesMilford L. WILLIAMSON v. STATE of Mississippi.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi

E. Howard Eaton, Taylorsville, for appellant.

A. F. Summer, Atty. Gen., by Billy Gore, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Jackson, for appellee.


WALKER, Justice, for the court:

The appellant appeals from the imposition of a life sentence by the Circuit Court of Smith County, Mississippi, after having been convicted of the murder of his wife.

The appellant gave a statement to investigating officers the day after the fatal shooting that he and his wife had been arguing during which she told him she was pregnant by another man; and, that he followed her to her home and shot her from his pickup truck with a .20 gauge shotgun.

The defense was grounded on the theory of insanity.


The appellant first contends that when a defendant files a suggestion of insanity and has been sent to the State Hospital for a mental evaluation, a grand jury should not be permitted to hear evidence with respect to the charge against him until the mental examination has been completed. This contention is wholly without merit. A grand jury is not charged with the responsibility of inquiring into the mental condition of a person accused of a crime and whose case is presented to the grand jury. However, if it should come to the attention of the grand jury, during the course of its investigation, that an accused is insane or so feebleminded that he or she was not responsible for his acts or omissions at the time when the act or omission charged was committed or made, the grand jury should certify the fact to the circuit court as provided under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-13-5 (1972). This does not mean, however, that a grand jury must delay acting on any case to await the outcome of the mental examination of an accused. The jurisprudence of this State includes adequate safeguards to protect all of the statutory and constitutional rights of incompetents who are indicted for the commission of crimes.


The appellant contends that the entire testimony of Dr. Guild, a psychiatrist, who examined appellant over a period of two and one-half months on an average of three times per week at the Mississippi State Mental Hospital, should have been stricken on the grounds that it was partly based on information from psychological, neurological, medical and laboratory examinations conducted by other hospital personnel. However, an examination of the record reveals that, although Dr. Guild testified he used such reports in arriving at his ultimate opinion that the appellant was sane, there was no contemporaneous objection interposed by appellant specifying this ground as a basis for his objection. To the contrary, appellant's counsel extensively cross-examined Dr. Guild and introduced into evidence some of the reports to which Dr. Guild referred and which contained information favorable to appellant. The appellant did not move to exclude Dr. Guild's testimony until after several intervening witnesses had testified and the state had rested its case. We have held in numerous cases that a contemporaneous objection is necessary stating the specific reasons for the objection in order to preserve the point as error on appeal. Baker v. State, 327 So.2d 288 (Miss. handed down February 10, 1976); Thornton v. State, 313 So.2d 16 (Miss.1975); Ratliff v. State, 313 So.2d 386 (Miss.1975); Pittman v. State, 297 So.2d 888 (Miss.1974); Myers v. State, 268 So.2d 353 (Miss.1972). Since the point was not preserved, we do not reach the question of whether there was error in allowing the doctor to testify from the reports in question.


The appellant next assigns that the court erred in allowing the state's psychiatrist Dr. Guild, to testify with reference to statements concerning the events surrounding the death of appellant's wife made by the appellant to the doctor during a mental examination conducted pursuant to a court order. The appellant contends that admitting into evidence his statements to the psychiatrist violated his constitutional privilege against self-incrimination where his guilt or innocence as well as the question of insanity was at issue.

We held in Rogers v. State, 222 Miss. 690, 76 So.2d 831 (1955) that the statute providing for a defendant's mental examination by court-appointed experts is not unconstitutional on the ground of self-incrimination where the question of sanity is at issue. However, this Court has not addressed itself to the precise question of whether inculpatory statements made by an accused to a court-appointed psychiatrist with reference to events surrounding the crime charged are admissible. We are of the opinion that such inculpatory statements would not be admissible. An order permitting an examination of an accused, whether on motion of the state or the accused, should result in full, good-faith co-operation by the accused. The defendant should not fear that what he says may be used against him in a trial where the issue is his guilt or innocence of the offense charged. United States v. Albright, 388 F.2d 719 (4th Cir. 1968); State v. Whitlow, 45 N.J. 3, 210 A.2d 763 (1965); State v. Raskin, 34 Wis.2d 607, 150 N.W.2d 318 (1967). Ordinarily, where there is a serious question of an accused's sanity or competency to stand trial, that issue should be submitted to a separate jury prior to a trial on the merits of the charges against the accused. Olsen v. State, 224 Miss. 226, 79 So.2d 841 (1955); Robinson v. State, 223 Miss. 70, 77 So.2d 265, 83 So.2d 99 (1955); Rogers v. State, supra; Shipp v. State, 215 Miss. 541, 61 So.2d 329 (1952); Williams v. State, 205 Miss. 515, 39 So.2d 3 (1949).

In determining the issue of sanity, the privilege arising out of the relationship of physician and patient does not exist in the case of a court-ordered examination. Hopkins v. State, 212 Miss. 772, 55 So.2d 467 (1951).

We are of the opinion that no reversible error was committed under the facts presented in this case. The statements made to Dr. Guild during the course of the court-ordered mental examination were contrary to the account of the shooting that appellant gave in his confession which was admitted into evidence by the court after finding it was freely and voluntarily given. The appellant's statements to Dr. Guild were exculpatory in nature as he told the doctor, in effect, that some third person fired the shots; and, that some of the shots struck his pickup truck in which he was sitting as well as hitting the deceased. Therefore, the admission of the statements through Dr....

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31 cases
  • Billiot v. State, 54960
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 6 de junho de 1984
    ...... THE STATEMENTS OF THE DEFENDANT. .         As a general rule the confession of an insane person cannot be admitted into evidence because he cannot waive his constitutional right. Hollins v. State, 340 . Page 458 . So.2d 438, 441 (Miss.1976); Williamson v. State, 330 So.2d 272, 276 (Miss.1976); and Harvey v. State, 207 So.2d 108, 116 (Miss.1968). Harvey held that a confession cannot be admitted into evidence if it is apparent that the defendant is not mentally capable of understanding the gravity of the charge against him or the meaning of the ......
  • Neal v. State
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 23 de maio de 1984
    ...coupling it with three days of interrogation surely does. Here, Neal implicitly recognizes the approach articulated in Williamson v. State, 330 So.2d 272 (Miss.1976), where we A confession will not ordinarily be excluded merely because the person making the confession is mentally weak. Unti......
  • Jones v. State
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 28 de novembro de 1984
    ...he dropped out of school in the seventh grade. His coded age is nine or ten with a second grade educational level. In Williamson v. State, 330 So.2d 272 (Miss.1976), we recognized the will of a person who is of weak intellect may be more easily overcome than that of one who is more intellig......
  • Holland v. State
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 11 de setembro de 1991
    ...waive his rights.); Jones, 461 So.2d at 696 (educational background considered as a factor) (citing cases); cf. Williamson v. State, 330 So.2d 272, 276 (Miss.1976) ("[T]he will of a person who is of weak intellect may be more easily overcome than that of one who is more 3. His criminal past......
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