Clothing seized at time of arrest under plain view and/or search incident to arrest


In 1993, five year old Yoichi Boyd went down the road to her grandmother’s house to wait for the school bus. Upon entering the house, she discovered the bodies of her aunt and grandmother, Verline and Betty Boyd. When the school bus arrived, she told the bus driver what she had found. The bus driver went back to the house with the child and saw the body of Verline Boyd in the doorway.

Captain Janet Taylor and Lieutenant Tim Roberts, DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office, arrived at the scene. The front door was open when they arrived, and the house was “totally ransacked.” Verline Boyd was lying on the floor in the doorway leading from the porch to the dining room while Betty Boyd’s body was found in the living room. Sheriff James Riley and Captain Johnie Combes soon arrived and they found the nude body of Evangela Boyd in the laundry room.

82 year old Betty Boyd died from “multiple chop wounds to the head.” Verline Boyd, who was found face-down by the front door, died from multiple chop wounds to the forehead and right posterior aspect of her head, which caused lacerations to her brain. 13 year old Evangela Boyd, like her mother and grandmother, died from multiple chop wounds to her head. Although the girl’s nude body was discovered with her bra pulled behind her head, Dr. Hayne found no evidence of sexual assault.

At the crime scene, investigators focused on bloody shoeprints found on the porch and front door threshold. They identified shoeprints consistent with those found on the porch and threshold near Verline Boyd’s car and traveling to and from the Boyd residence along a dirt field road leading to Barbee Road, about a quarter of a mile away. The shoeprints ultimately led authorities to the home of 24 year old Sherwood Brown, where he had been staying with his parents.

That afternoon, Sheriff Riley talked by telephone with Brown, who was at work at Enco Materials on Highway 78 in the vicinity of Olive Branch, Mississippi, and told him that authorities wanted to speak with him. When Officers Wood and Ellis arrived at the business a few minutes after 5 p.m., Brown had left. The warehouse manager had given him a ride to the bus station in Memphis. Wood spotted a shoe print in some dust on the floor of the warehouse where he worked that appeared to match those they had seen at the Boyd house, as well as along the footpath.

He later received a phone call from a pawnshop owner that Brown had purchased a gun that day. Lieutenant Ellis learned that Brown had gone to the Villa Inn Motel on Highway 61 in South Memphis. Along with Memphis detectives, he went to the motel and “found that a person identified as Sherwood Brown had checked into that motel under the name of Sherwood Jones.” Brown was no longer there.

Brown called his friend, James Coleman “Chick” Jones and asked Jones to meet him at the Villa Inn Motel. Jones testified that when he arrived, Brown was not in his room, but hiding around the corner, and explained to him that he had wanted to make sure that Jones wasn’t being followed. Jones further stated that Brown told him that he was running from the police.

Brown told him that he had knocked on the door of Mrs. Boyd’s house, and when Evangela answered the door, they went into another room and started flirting. Betty Boyd was supposed to have been at church, but she was at home and when she saw Brown, they argued and he grabbed something like a joe blade and hit her. After that, he continued to flaunt with Evangela, who fought back, so he beat her until she was unconscious.

He then heard a door shut and when Verline Boyd came in, hit her on the back of the head. After that, he said, Evangela was trying to leave, and he had to stop her, so he just grabbed whatever he grabbed and just stopped her, cut, her, hatchet or whatever, just he stopped her.

He told Jones that he walked home along the path. Jones stated that while they were talking, Brown was very nervous, wild, angry and upset, constantly shaking and smoking cigarettes. At one point, he put a gun to his head. Jones told Brown that if he didn’t turn himself in, that he was going to call the sheriff. Jones later called Sheriff Riley and told him that Brown was at the Villa Inn.

Brown was arrested at the Memphis home of his aunt shortly after midnight by officers of the Memphis Tactical Unit. At the time of his arrest, Brown was wearing only his underwear, and because it was a cold, rainy night, pointed out his shoes and overcoat to Officer Thomas Helldorfer. Having been advised of the potential evidentiary value of Brown’s shoes and any clothing, his request to wear the items was denied and the shoes and coat, as well as two guns and an ax found at the house, were taken into custody.

In his statement to Officers Wood and Ellis, made at the Memphis Criminal Justice Center, Brown denied that he had been on Boyd Road the Wednesday night of the murders; rather, he stated that he had arrived at his parents’ house at around 8:00 p.m. and had gone straight to bed. He stated that he had smoked some marijuana and drunk some beer. When officers confronted him with corroborated statements from friends he’d been with that night and accused him of lying, he became defensive, admitted that he’d also smoked some crack cocaine and told them that he wasn’t admitting anything; they would have to prove it.

Brown was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. On appeal, he argued the taking of his clothing and other items when he was arrested was illegal. MSC affirmed.


Because of shoe prints found at the scene and at Brown’s work place, Memphis police had been advised by DeSoto County authorities that his shoes might have evidentiary value. At the time of Brown’s arrest, therefore, the arresting officers, following standard procedures, seized his shoes and clothing.

The Fila running shoes in question were out in plain view by a coffee table in the room where the officers were standing. Brown, not wanting to go out into the cold, rainy night without his shoes, pointed them out to authorities.

The record makes clear that the Memphis police officers were engaged in a legitimate activity — the legal arrest of Sherwood Brown; that they had been advised of the evidentiary value of his shoes, and that the shoes were in plain view.

Shell v. State, 554 So. 2d 887 (Miss. 1989), further reminds us that it is a long-standing rule in this, and other jurisdictions that, pursuant to a lawful arrest, law enforcement officials may seize personal effects and clothing from one who has been arrested.

Moreover, Upshaw v. State, 350 So. 2d 1358 (Miss. 1977), expressly rejects Brown’s argument that seizure of clothing pursuant to a lawful arrest violates a defendant’s fourth amendment rights.

In both Upshaw, where the defendant’s clothing was seized from him upon his arrival at the jail, and in Shell, where the defendant’s shoes were discovered and seized during a search of his trailer, we followed Wright v. State, 236 So. 2d 408 (Miss. 1970), which provides that a search may be necessary for many reasons, including to discover weapons and means of escape; to prevent means of injury to the prisoner and others; to discover necessary medical requirements; to discover evidence in connection with the charge for which accused was arrested; to discover wounds and need for immediate first aid, and to preserve the property of the defendant.