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Beecham v State of Mississippi

Case No. 2009-KA-00251-COA (MS Ct. App., Dec. 14, 2010)

Jeffrey Dale Beecham was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), causing death, after operating his motor vehicle in DeSoto County, Mississippi, with a blood-alcohol content of 0.26%. By virtue of his status as a habitual offender, under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-81 (Rev. 2007), Beecham was sentenced to twenty-five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). Aggrieved, he now appeals both the conviction and sentence.

FACTS

On March 27, 2007, Beecham and Freda Lovelace were involved in a two-vehicle accident in DeSoto County, Mississippi. After being extricated from her vehicle, Lovelace was air lifted to a regional medical center in Memphis, Tennessee, where she eventually died from her injuries. Her death certificate states the cause of death was “complications of blunt force injuries to [the] head and chest.” After a trial by jury, Beecham was found guilty of DUI and causing the death of Lovelace.

At trial, eight witnesses testified for the State during its case-in-chief. Once the State rested its case, Beecham moved for a directed verdict, which was denied. Beecham then rested his case without producing any evidence, but as part of his defense, he had the jury visit the scene of the accident. After hearing all of the evidence at trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty of DUI causing a death.

At the sentencing hearing, Beecham was adjudicated as a habitual offender within the meaning and purview of section 99-19-81. Beecham was then sentenced to twenty-five years in the custody of the MDOC.
 

 

Judge(s): David M. Ishee
Jurisdiction: Mississippi Court of Appeals
Circuit Court Judge(s)
Donna Barnes
Virginia Carlton
Kenneth Griffis
Tyree Irving
David Ishee
Leslie King
Joseph Lee
Jimmy Maxwell
Larry Roberts

 
Trial Court Judge(s)
Robert Chamberlin

 
Appellant Lawyer(s) Appellant Law Firm(s)
John Watson

 
Appellee Lawyer(s) Appellee Law Firm(s)
John Champion Office of the Desoto County District Attorney
Billy Gore Office of the Mississippi Attorney General

 

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Click the maroon box above for a formatted PDF of the decision.
reports into evidence, finding that there was sufficient probable cause at the time of the arrest evidence presented which supports the verdict. id. (citing eakes v. state, 665 so. 2d 852, fair minded jurors could only find the accused not guilty.'" stewart v. state, 909 so. 2d 52, "[t]his court reviews de novo a confrontation clause objection." smith v. state, 986 so. 2d 11 (sexual battery and a convicted felon in possession of a firearm), the trial court's imposition "`assist the trier of fact' means the evidence must be relevant." mathis v. ¶1. jeffrey dale beecham was convicted of driving under the influence (dui), causing ¶7. the trial court noted the officer at the scene of the accident had relied on the smell of at 50 mph at the time of impact with the victim's automobile, thereby exceeding the speed 872 (miss. 1995)). "[w]e will only disturb a verdict when it is so contrary to the ¶3. at trial, eight witnesses testified for the state during its case-in-chief. once the state admissibility of evidence must specifically state the grounds; otherwise, the objection is legal limit of 0.08%. we find that the jury was presented with substantial evidence to 6 ¶8. after reviewing the record and relevant case law, we find that the smell of alcohol on eligibility for probation or parole is affirmed. all costs of visit the scene of the accident. after hearing all of the evidence at trial, the jury returned a standard of review governing the admission or exclusion of evidence is abuse of discretion. that "a law enforcement officer may, with proper training and experience, qualify as an is abuse of discretion." vaughn v. state, 972 so. 2d 56, 59 (¶10) (miss. ct. app. 2008) review for a trial court's finding of probable cause is abuse of discretion. holloman v. state, alcohol and the fact that beecham was uncooperative with the paramedics. accordingly, the qualified as a expert in court before. the trial court noted, and we have stated in the past, be reasonably drawn from the evidence." id. the evidence will be reviewed in the light the evidence are to be settled by the jury. stegall v. state, 765 so. 2d 606, 610 (¶10) (miss. sentenced to twenty-five years report into evidence was a judicial abuse of discretion. we disagree. the mississippi district attorney: john w. champion as follows: in the court of appeals of the state of mississippi probation or parole. beecham argues that the sentence imposed is cruel and unusual in that imposes a sentence which complies with statutory limitations, the court will not be held in ¶9. beecham argues the trial court erred in admitting the testimony of horn lake police iv. photographs annotated section 99-19-81 (rev. 2007), beecham was sentenced to twenty-five years in the requires the trial court to perform a two-pronged inquiry in determining before lee, p.j., ishee and maxwell, jj. expert testimony is relevant­that is, the requirement that the testimony must trial court denied beecham's motion to suppress. "when reviewing a trial court's ruling on we recognize the united states supreme court has recently held that statements1 820 so. 2d 52, 55 (¶11) (miss. ct. app. 2002). participating. concur. maxwell, j., concurs in part and in the result without his status as a habitual offender, he is required to serve the sentence without eligibility of state of mississippi appellee death of another shall . . . be guilty of a felony[.]" miss. code ann. § 63-11-30(5). ¶26. in light of the gravity of beecham's current offense, and his prior predicate offenses 3 next, the trial court must determine whether the proffered testimony is whether expert testimony is admissible under rule 702. pipitone v. biomatrix, conviction of driving under the influence causing death and particular case, many factors may be relevant in determining reliability, and thus, we do not proceed with an eighth amendment proportionality analysis. accordingly, ¶17. the trial judge found the photographs to be relevant because the state had the burden department of corrections of a twenty-five-year sentence does not give rise to an inference of gross disproportionately; sheffield v. state, 749 so. 2d 123, 127 (¶16) (miss. 1999). matters regarding the weight of (miss. ct. app. 2006) (citing johnson v. state, 461 so. 2d 1288, 1292 (miss. 1984)). objected or to why the trial judge admitted the death certificate into evidence. "counsel must overwhelming weight of the evidence that to allow it to stand would sanction an by statute. davis v. state, 724 so. 2d 342, 344 (¶10) (miss. 1998). the practical effect of ¶2. on march 27, 2007, beecham and freda lovelace were involved in a two-vehicle the daubert analysis is a flexible one. id. daubert provides "an illustrative, this final assignment of error lacks merit. defendant's counsel in the past. see melendez-diaz v. massachusetts, 129 s. ct. 2527, unanimous verdict of guilty of dui causing a death. his peremptory instruction d-1. he further argues that the trial judge abused his discretion 2534-37 (2009). testify regarding the report. beecham was allowed to cross-examine officer weems and imposing a maximum sentence. finding no reversible error, we affirm. and failure to articulate the grounds for objection constitutes a waiver of the alleged error." 7 supreme court has held that "police reports prepared during the investigation of an accident (miss. 1989). discretion; therefore, this issue is without merit. influence causing death and influence of intoxicating liquor at the time of the accident but that he performed a negligent 2 344 (¶11), the mississippi supreme court acknowledged that the length of sentences is custody of the mississippi department of corrections without accident in desoto county, mississippi. after being extricated from her vehicle, lovelace limit by at least 12-15 mph. further, officer weems testified there was no evidence of rested his case without producing any evidence, but as part of his defense, he had the jury 5 clark v. state, 40 so. 3d 531, 539 (¶18) (miss. 2010). was air lifted to a regional medical center in memphis, tennessee, where she eventually died motion for rehearing filed: with the paramedics, is sufficient to establish probable cause for the issuance of the warrant. failed to state specific grounds for his objection, and all matters regarding the objection were another, be caused by alcohol. joiner v. state, 835 so. 2d 42, 44 (¶5) (miss. 2003). miss. trial court disposition: convicted of driving under the this appeal are assessed to the appellant. types of expert testimony. [kumho tire co. v. carmichael, 526 u.s. 147, 119 or parole court from which appealed: desoto county circuit court the admittance of the report into evidence was in no way an abuse of discretion; therefore, braking on the part of beecham. beecham's blood-alcohol level was 0.26%, well above the disposition: affirmed - 12/14/2010 in denying his post-trial motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (jnov), as well it is disproportionate to other sentences imposed. all credible evidence consistent with the defendant's guilt will be accepted as true. id. (citing custody of the mississippi error and will not have abused its discretion. bonner v. state, 962 so. 2d 606, 611 (¶18) judge's decision will not be disturbed on appeal if the sentence is within the term provided king, c.j., lee, p.j., irving, griffis, roberts and carlton, jj., legal." wilkerson v. state, 731 so. 2d 1173, 1177 (¶13) (miss. 1999). our standard of separate written opinion. barnes, j., concurs in result only therefore, the state had the burden of proving that beecham was not only driving under the reliability of expert testimony. id. ¶18. beecham argues the trial court erred in denying his motion for a directed verdict and herring v. state, 691 so. 2d 948, 957 (miss. 1997)). court] has said many times that general objections will not suffice. objections to the maximum sentence under mississippi code annotated section 63-11-30(5), and because of attorney for appellee: office of the attorney general 56 (¶16) (miss. 2005). follow a modified daubert test. this modified test was explained and summarized in in the custody of the mdoc. ¶21. beecham argues the state was unable to show negligence on his behalf. he further that this was officer weems's first accident to reconstruct and that he had never been ¶24. beecham, a habitual offender under mississippi code annotated section 99-19-81, same for both: we must give the prosecution "the benefit of all favorable inferences that may and application utilized by officer weems and found that officer weems was a qualified inc., 288 f.3d 239, 244 (5th cir. 2002). the modified daubert rule is not for admissibility: "whether the probative value of . . . [the] photographs is substantially vii. accident report if the declarant testifies at trial or is unavailable and has been cross-examined by the jeffrey dale beecham appellant force injuries to [the] head and chest." after a trial by jury, beecham was found guilty of mississippi transportation commission v. mclemore, 863 so. 2d 31, 38 (¶16) (miss. 2003), sentence that does not exceed the maximum period allowed by statute will not be disturbed so. 2d 201, 206 (¶14) (miss. ct. app. 2001). this discretion originates from the primary test vi. sentence facts officer lance weems as an accident-reconstruction expert. he primarily points to the fact dui and causing the death of lovelace. expert for the purpose of accident reconstruction. after reviewing the record, we find the ¶10. the trial court, when determining whether or not to admit expert testimony, should i. blood-alcohol evidence operates as a waiver of the issue on appeal. "an objection must be made with specificity, ¶4. at the sentencing hearing, beecham was adjudicated as a habitual offender within the photographs into evidence absent an abuse of discretion by the trial court. ware v. state, 790 no. 2009-ka-00251-coa attorney for appellant: john d. watson williams v. state, 991 so. 2d 593, 597 (¶8) (miss. 2008) (citations omitted). however, reliable. pipitone, 288 f.3d at 244. depending on the circumstances of the denying the defendant's motion for a directed verdict and peremptory jury instruction, d-1; nature of the case: criminal - felony this issue is without merit. properly controlled by the legislature. furthermore, we have held that when a trial court treatment under the confrontation clause; if a statement by a lab technician or forensic therefore, we find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to ii. expert witness ¶11. the trial court was of the opinion that officer weems had set forth sufficient evidence objection to the admission of the certificate as a violation of the confrontation clause was 8 ¶16. this court will not reverse a trial court's decision to allow the admission of this general rule is that a trial judge's sentencing decision has traditionally been treated as ¶20. on the other hand, a motion for a new trial challenges the weight of the evidence. certificate. he claims the certificate is inadmissible hearsay and a violation of the mandate issued: (miss. 1986) (citing m.r.e. 403). whether or not lovelace had her headlights on at the time of the accident. after reviewing unconscionable injustice." bush v. state, 895 so. 2d 836, 844 (¶18) (miss. 2005) (citing 853, 859 (¶15) (miss. ct. app. 2005). should be admissible into evidence." copeland v. city of jackson, 548 so. 2d 970, 975 asserts that the victim, lovelace, was contributorily negligent; and without her negligence, regarding conflicting statements from his trial testimony and the report itself. we hold that discussion ct. app. 2000) (citing neal v. state, 451 so. 2d 743, 758 (miss. 1984)). therefore, the without separate written opinion. myers, p.j., not meaning and purview of section 99-19-81. beecham was then sentenced to twenty-five years was given a sentence of twenty-five years in the custody of the mdoc. his sentence is the ¶6. the trial court admitted beecham's blood sample and the results of the toxicology not sanction an unconscionable injustice. accordingly, these issues are both without merit. because the death certificate was properly admitted before the jury, beecham's second [t]he analytical framework provided by the modified daubert standard rested its case, beecham moved for a directed verdict, which was denied. beecham then code ann. § 63-11-30(5) (supp. 2009). the pertinent part of mississippi code annotated on appeal. wallace v. state, 607 so. 2d 1184, 1188 (miss. 1992). in davis, 724 so. 2d at trial judge: hon. robert p. chamberlin section 63-11-30(5) states that: "[e]very person who operates any motor vehicle in violation of the evidence. ¶25. sentencing is generally within the sound discretion of the trial judge and the trial ¶13. although it is true that beecham objected to the admission of the death certificate, he and injuries of his wife were clearly hearsay. however, not once did beecham object to the from her injuries. her death certificate states the cause of death was "complications of blunt ¶27. in his final assignment of error, beecham argues that the admission of the accident the record and the photographs, we are of the opinion that the trial court did not abuse its he contends they have no probative value. evidence of one or more of the elements of the charged offense is such that `reasonable and made by scientific analysts­ as opposed to eyewitnesses, for example­ receive no special ¶28. the accident report was admitted into evidence, and officer weems was available to unreviewable so long as the sentence was within the statutory limits. as a general rule, a analyst qualifies as testimonial, then it may be admitted against a criminal defendant only act that caused the death of lovelace. alcohol evidence; allowing the testimony of the state's accident reconstructionist; allowing spikes v. state, 302 so. 2d 250, 251 (miss. 1974)). "[r]eversal can only occur when v. ¶15. beecham's next assignment of error deals with the trial court's admission of make specific objections in order to preserve a question for appellate review. [the supreme trial court in no way abused its discretion in admitting the testimony of officer weems; content of 0.26%. by virtue of his status as a habitual offender, under mississippi code evidence. mcclain v. state, 625 so. 2d 774, 778 (miss. 1993). the standard of review is the s.ct. 1167, 143 l.ed. 2d 238 (1999).] first, the court must determine that the (citing troupe v. mcauley, 955 so. 2d 848, 855 (¶19) (miss. 2007)). v. sufficiency of evidence and weight of the evidence confrontation clause of the sixth amendment of the united states constitution. the1 beecham at the scene of the accident, coupled with the fact that beecham was uncooperative ¶29. the judgment of the desoto county circuit court of of proving that the accident in question was in connection to the death of the victim. court's finding[,] considering the totality of the circumstances." shaw v. state, 938 so. 2d of the provisions of subsection (1) of this section and who in a negligent manner causes the both the conviction and sentence. regarding his proper training. furthermore, the trial judge reviewed the principles, methods, waived." seeling v. state, 844 so. 2d 439, 445 (¶17) (miss. 2003) (citations omitted). 9 limited to scientific expert testimony­rather, the rule applies equally to all custody of the mississippi department of corrections (mdoc). aggrieved, he now appeals a motion to suppress, we must assess whether substantial credible evidence supports the trial as the denial of his motion for a new trial as the verdict is against the overwhelming weight conducted at an unrecorded bench conference, thus leaving no record as to why beecham 10 2001). "the standard of review for the admission or suppression of evidence in mississippi without eligibility for probation sentence of twenty-five years as a habitual offender in the photographs of the accident. he claims the photographs are irrelevant, or, in the alternative, ¶12. beecham argues the trial court erred in allowing the introduction of lovelace's death the introduction of the death certificate; allowing photographs of the victim's vehicle; but not an exhaustive, list of factors" that trial courts may use in assessing the untimely made and, therefore, improper. the failure to make a contemporaneous objection ¶22. in mississippi, there is no requirement that the negligence, which caused the death of death, after operating his motor vehicle in desoto county, mississippi, with a blood-alcohol most favorable to the state. id. (citing esparaza v. state, 595 so. 2d 418, 426 (miss. 1992)). by: billy l. gore support its verdict of guilty. we further hold that allowing the jury's verdict to stand does as a habitual offender in the furthermore, he found the photographs were relevant in assisting the jury in determining ¶23. according to officer weems, the accident reconstructionist, beecham was traveling date of judgment: 12/16/2008 ¶5. beecham argues that the circuit court erred in the following ways: allowing blood- admission of lovelace's husband's testimony at trial, nor does he object to it now. the accident would have never occurred. suppress; accordingly, this issue is without merit. to order the taking of a blood sample. "[b]lood searches based upon probable cause are ishee, j., for the court: iii. death certificate outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice." parker v. state, 514 so. 2d 767, 771 n.3 ¶19. a motion for a directed verdict and a jnov both challenge the sufficiency of the ¶14. the testimony provided by lovelace's husband with regard to the medical condition 4 exxon corp., 302 f.3d 448, 460 (5th cir. 2002) (citing fed. r. evid. 702). 290, 296 (¶18) (miss. 2008) (citations omitted). expert accident reconstructionist." ware v. state, 790 so. 2d 201, 210 (¶32) (miss. ct. app. appellate court's scope of review is limited. this appellate court must accept as true the accordingly, this issue is without merit. therefore, this issue is without merit.


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