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ARTHUR LEE CHRISTIAN v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

AUGUST 29, 1984

ARTHUR LEE CHRISTIAN
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



EN BANC

SULLIVAN, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Arthur Lee Christian was convicted of rape by the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Bolivar County, Mississippi, in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated 97-3-65 (2) (Supp. 1983). When the jury was unable to fix a penalty, the court sentenced Christian to a term of thirty-five (35) years imprisonment with the Mississippi Department of Corrections. We affirm.

Christian assigns the following three errors which he contends were committed by the trial court:

 1. The Court erred in refusing to direct a verdict for appellant, or, in the alternative, granting him a new trial inasmuch as he was convicted on the uncorroborated testimony of the prosecutrix.

 2. The Court erred in refusing appellant's instructions numbered D-2, D-3 and D-5, relating to the duty of the victim to resist.

 3. The verdict of the jury is contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence.

 Christian is a 23-year-old black man who lives in Bolivar County, Mississippi, and the victim is a 17-year-old white high school student who also resides in Bolivar County, Mississippi.

 Christian admits the fact that he and the victim had sexual intercourse some time between 11:30 p.m. and 12:45 a.m. on the rainy evening of October 7-8, 1981, in her 1981 Cutlass automobile on a country road known as Waxhaw Road in Bolivar County. His defense to the charge of rape was the consent of the victim. The victim testified to the contrary that Christian blocked her path with his automobile on a narrow highway and forced her

 to drive him, abandoning his car, to a lonely spot on the Waxhaw Gin Road, where he forcibly raped her by threatening to kill her.

 In summary, the victim testified that on the afternoon of October 7, 1981, she went to Gunnison, Mississippi, to visit her boyfriend at his grandmother's home. At about 11:30 p.m. she parted company with her boyfriend and began returning to her own home in her brown 1981 Cutlass automobile. As she was about to turn onto the main street in Gunnison, Mississippi, which leads to Highway 1, a car went past her and she had to stop in order to avoid being hit. She continued down the main street in Gunnison to the intersection of Highway 1, where the same car that had nearly hit her had stopped and the driver's arm was out of the window waiving her down. She did not stop but went around the car and headed down Highway 1 at a speed of about 40 to 45 miles an hour. At this time she was passed by the same automobile traveling at a high rate of speed.

 As she proceeded down Highway 1 just before it reached the Waxhaw Gin Road crossing she saw the same car parked diagonally in the middle of the road blocking both lanes. She did not attempt to pass around the vehicle on the shoulders of the road because they were narrow, muddy, and they sloped into a ditch. When she stopped, a man got out of the car and approached her vehicle. She cracked the window about 6 inches to see what he wanted. While they were conversing, he glanced into the back seat of her vehicle and she instinctively turned around to look also. When she turned back around he had reached his arm through the window, unlocked her door and was opening it. Her attempt to lock the door immediately was unsuccessful because she drove with the seat pulled up close to the wheel which put the door lock behind her. According to the victim, Christian took her keys, told her to unlock the passenger door and then went back to his car. He drove his car off Highway 1 and parked on the Waxhaw Gin Road, facing towards the Gin. She stated that she did not flee from her car at this point because she knew of no buildings, homes, or woods in the area in which to seek refuge and she figured that he could outrun her anyway.

 He returned to her car and told her to turn onto Waxhaw Gin Road because he lived two miles down the road and wanted her to take him home. She started to continue down Highway 1 but he grabbed the steering wheel and forced her to turn the car down Waxhaw Road. As they passed

 the Gin, he said that he had to get back to Arkansas because he was "wanted" . He told her to stop on a curve after the Gin where he said he could make it from there. She did so. He then told her to turn off the lights and the car motor. When she refused, he reached over and did it himself.

 Next he ordered her to take off her clothes, but she said no. When he threatened to undress her himself, she told him she would comply, as she was frightened and did not want him to touch her. He told her that he had a gun, as she began to undress, and that he would kill her if he had to. He got into the back seat and undressed and told her to get in the back seat and lie down. He then held her down and had sexual intercourse with her twice. She testified that she was too frightened to resist because he said that he had killed two other people and it wouldn't hurt him to kill her. She explained that she did not scratch him because she did not have fingernails to scratch with and she did not fight because he was bigger than she was. When she resisted his third act of intercourse, he began to reach for a gun he said he had in the front seat, so she submitted again. After the third time, she crawled to the front seat and tried to get her clothes on, but could not. She opened the door to get out and dress and he grabbed her wrist, telling her to get back in the car. She hurriedly dressed and returned to the driver's seat.

 He told her to turn her car around and drive back to his car. She testified that he repeatedly asked her if she would tell anybody what happened and warned her that if she did, he would come back and kill her. When she could not find a place to turn around, he became angry and moved from the back to the driver's seat, turned the car around, and returned to his vehicle. After he got out of her car and repeated his warning, she moved back to the driver's seat, turned on to Highway 1 toward Gunnison, and sped to her boyfriend's house. Her assailant turned his car around and fell in pursuit but, because she had a head start, she reached the Gunnison exit before he could catch her. In her last view of him, she saw his car turn onto another road that goes by Amiel Earp's house.

 She identified Christian as the man who had raped her that night and further stated that she had never seen him before that night. It was her testimony that she submitted to Christian because she believed that he had ...


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