Supreme Court upholds Greenville man’s conviction in 2000 death

Published 11:09 pm Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Mississippi Supreme Court has upheld the capital murder conviction of Terry Lattimore in the 2000 beating death of a Greenville man.

Lattimore was convicted in Washington County in 2002 and was sentenced to life in prison in the death of James Dycus.

According to the court record, Dycus was assaulted by two men on July 16, 2000, at his home. Deputies found Dycus bleeding from head wounds in his back yard. The men reportedly used a pipe to beat Dycus, who died at Delta Regional Medical Center in Greenville.

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Prosecutors said robbery was the motive for the attack.

A Washington County jury in 2002 acquitted Gregory Brown of capital murder in Dycus’ death.

On appeal, Lattimore argued that a pretrial lineup should not have been allowed as evidence because his attorney was not present. Lattimore also said an in-court identification by Virgie Dycus, the victim’s wife, should have been disallowed because the woman appeared uncertain.

Lattimore claimed the court record showed when Virgie Dycus, who was the only eyewitness to the murder, was asked to identify him, she scanned the courtroom and hesitated before picking him out.

Presiding Justice Kay Cobb, writing in Thursday’s 7-2 decision, said the court record was unclear about how long it took Virgie Dycus to identify Lattimore. Regardless, Cobb said Virgie Dycus testified that although she was not wearing her glasses, she clearly saw Lattimore and saw him run when he looked in the window and saw her on the phone.

Cobb said Virgie Dycus’ identification was “consistent from the time she first described Lattimore on the day of the murder until the day of trial.”

Cobb said the trial judge did not err in allowing the pretrial lineup into evidence. She said although Lattimore’s attorney should have been present for the lineup, the error did not harm Lattimore because of the certainty of Virgie Dycus’ in-court identification.

“It is clear that Virgie Dycuss in-court identification was based upon her view of the defendant at the scene of the crime and not based upon the lineup,” Cobb said.

Justice Oliver Diaz Jr., in a dissent, said the pretrial lineup cannot be harmless to Lattimore’s case when it “was the only evidence tending to show it was Lattimore … who committed the murder” because Virgie Diaz was unable to immediately identify Lattimore in court.

“Mrs. Dycus had extreme difficulty in identifying Lattimore; indeed, she de facto failed to identify him. The pretrial identification she offered played a substantial role in his eventual conviction,” Diaz said.