Lawful arrest on misdemeanor warrant


Sometime around 4:30 p.m. on June 21, 2003, Charles Moore, Jr. unsuccessfully attempted to call the home of his friend Chris Parker. At 5:00 p.m., Moore reached Parker on his cell phone. Parker informed Moore that he was in Atlanta and would be staying overnight. That evening at 10:30 p.m., Moore, Shane McCowin, and Andy Vail arrived at a club in Tupelo and started drinking heavily.

After the club closed at 2:00 a.m., the three men and two women from the club went to Vail’s trailer where they drank for approximately two hours. Moore left at 4:30 a.m. and claims he drove to his home in Fulton, Mississippi, sat in his car for half an hour drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes, and then went to bed.

On that same evening, L.D.T. (“the victim), spent the night at Parker’s house where two of her friends, Jennifer Bass and Janie Goff were babysitting Parker’s children. At approximately 2:30 a.m., L.D.T. went to bed on the living room couch. Some time around daylight, she was awakened by someone who was suffocating her. Her attacker was saying, “Die, bitch, die.”

When L.D.T. clawed her attacker’s neck, the man stabbed her with an unidentified tool on both sides of her neck. The attacker told her he would kill her and the children in the house if she continued resisting. The man then vaginally and anally raped L.D.T., often talking to her during the attack. When the attacker grabbed L.D.T.’s throat from behind to facilitate penetrating her orally, his hand slipped on the blood. He slammed L.D.T. onto the couch, recovered her with the comforter, and told her that if she peeked out from beneath the covers, he would kill everyone in the house. The attacker then left.

Bass and Goff drove L.D.T. to the hospital where the medical staff treated her stab wounds and prepared a rape kit. The Mississippi Crime Laboratory later tested the seminal fluids found on vaginal swabs from L.D.T., but the findings were inconclusive as to whether Moore was the source. L.D.T. was discharged from the hospital that evening.

When law enforcement officers found a phone number on Parker’s caller ID which indicated a June 21, 2003 call from Moore’s phone, they questioned Moore on the evening of June 22, 2003. Eight days later, Officer Scotty Reedy and Officer Truman Carter arrested Moore at his workplace on a misdemeanor warrant for a bad check written in 1996.

The officers drove Moore to his house, had Moore sign a consent to search form, and retrieved a set of clothes and a belt from Moore’s bedroom. The Mississippi Crime Lab later conducted DNA testing on blood found on this belt and determined the stains were uniquely consistent with L.D.T.’s blood.

Upon completion of the search, the officers transported Moore to the Lee County Sheriff’s Department and booked him on the bad check charge. In the initial interview with the officers at the station, Moore signed a paper waiving his Miranda rights, but he made no confession. Although Moore provided a statement during a second interview in which he admitted raping L.D.T., he now argues he was simply repeating information about the rape told to him by his friends McCowin and Vail. Moore claims he confessed only because Officer Terry Jones threatened him after he gave the first statement.

Moore was convicted of Aggravated Assault, Burglary of a Dwelling, and Rape and sentenced to 70 years. On appeal, he argued the arrest was illegal and his statement was not voluntary. MSC affirmed.


A. Arrest on misdemeanor

Moore argues that, at the time of the search, he was in custody following an illegal arrest. As such, he argues, any evidence collected during that search was “fruit of the poisonous tree” and should have been suppressed.

Officers Reedy and Carter, who claim they had a warrant, arrested Moore on a misdemeanor charge of writing a $4.19 bad check to Wal-Mart in 1996. The officers discovered the outstanding warrant by running Moore’s name through the Justice Court database. The officers went to Moore’s place of employment and informed him that he was being arrested on a warrant for a bad check. After arresting Moore, the officers transported him to his apartment where the search took place.

The Justice Court file included an Affidavit, a copy of the $4.19 check to Wal-Mart, a computerized arrest form, and a disposition sheet — but no warrant. Because the State could not produce a copy of the misdemeanor warrant upon request, Moore claims that under Mississippi Code Annotated Section 99-3-7(1) and (2) (1972), his arrest was illegal.

Section 99-3-7 provides:

(1) An officer or private person may arrest any person without a warrant, for an indictable offense committed, or a breach of the peace threatened or attempted in his presence; or when a person has committed a felony, though not in his presence; or when a felony has been committed, and he has reasonable grounds to suspect and believe the person proposed to be arrested to have committed it; or on a charge, made upon reasonable cause, of the commission of a felony by the party proposed to be arrested. And in all cases of arrest without warrant, the person making such arrest must inform the accused of the object and cause of the arrest, except when he is in the actual commission of the offense, or is arrested on pursuit.

(2) Any law enforcement officer may arrest any person on a misdemeanor charge without having a warrant in his possession when a warrant is in fact outstanding for that person’s arrest. In all such cases, the officer making the arrest must inform such person at the time of the arrest the object and cause therefor. If the person arrested so requests, the warrant shall be shown to him as soon as practicable.

The statute clearly requires a warrant for the misdemeanor arrest. Thus, the Circuit Court was presented with a question of fact, that is, whether the officers had a warrant when they arrested Moore. The fact that the warrant could not later be produced is not conclusive proof that no warrant existed, nor does it necessarily mean the officers were not in possession of the warrant when they arrested Moore.

The Circuit Court was required to weigh the evidence that no warrant existed against other evidence that it did. Moore claims he never saw a warrant, and, when requested in discovery, no warrant could be produced. On the other hand, the officers testified they had an arrest warrant in their possession at the time of the arrest. According to Officer Reedy, after running a routine check of the Justice Court database, he located the physical misdemeanor warrant for Moore in the police department’s file at the jail. Officers Reedy and Carter claim that, with warrant in hand, they went to Moore’s workplace, informed him he was being arrested because of the bad check, and showed him the actual warrant.

Poor record keeping does not erase the existence of the warrant. The trial court’s denial of Moore’s motion to exclude the items seized from his home was supported by substantial credible evidence, and we will not disturb those findings. As such, Moore’s arrest was not illegal, and the items seized from his house after his arrest cannot be excluded as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” This portion of Moore’s first assignment of error is without merit.

B. Voluntariness of the Consent

Moore testified he was unaware that the officers could not search his home without a warrant absent a signed consent form. He stated that he thought the officers would “go in and get the clothes anyway.” According to Moore, he did not know he had a right to refuse to sign the consent form when he signed it.

Moore’s testimony starkly contrasts the testimony of Officers Reedy and Carter. Officer Carter testified that after arresting Moore on the misdemeanor warrant, the officers took Moore to his house. No threats or coercive action occurred during the drive over. According to Officer Reedy, he read the consent form to Moore.

Moore signed the form after Officer Reedy read it to him. Officer Carter testified he heard Officer Reedy read the form to Moore, and he witnessed Moore signing the document. In addition, Mike Emmons, the owner or co-resident of Moore’s house, signed the consent form at approximately the same time as Moore. According to Officer Reedy, Moore was cooperative and even went with the officers to his bedroom where they retrieved his clothes.

Looking at the totality of the circumstances, Moore has failed to prove that his consent was not voluntary or knowledgeable. Moore was not excited, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, mentally incompetent, or especially impressionable. The circumstances of his consent were not coercive. Moore willingly cooperated with the officers, indicating voluntary consent.

C. Threats

Moore claims he was threatened with bodily injury by a police officer if he did not confess to the crimes.

Again, Moore’s testimony differs significantly from that of the officers and documents involved. According to the officers, Moore was neither threatened nor promised anything in return for his confession. Before Moore gave his second statement, Officer Reedy again brought Moore’s attention to the waiver, saying, “Charles, you remember when we talked earlier that this little piece of paper I read your rights to you. Remember signing this?” to which Moore responded, “Yeah.”

The State offered evidence from three officers and provided a signed waiver as proof that Moore voluntarily confessed. The trial court had sufficient evidence before it to conclude that the State met its burden of proof.