Kenneth M. HINES a/k/a Kenneth Hines, Appellant
STATE of Mississippi, Appellee.
Christopher A. Collins, attorney for appellant.
Office of the Attorney General by Billy L. Gore, attorney for appellee.
Before IRVING, P.J., ISHEE and FAIR, JJ.
¶ 1. In 2012, Kenneth M. Hines was convicted in the Neshoba County Circuit Court of statutory rape and sexual battery of a child. He was sentenced as a habitual offender to life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) on each count, with the sentences to run consecutively. Aggrieved, Hines appeals, arguing (1) the indictment did not give him sufficient notice of the crimes committed; (2) the indictment was defective due to a statute-of-limitations issue; (3) the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict; and (4) the State made prejudicial comments during its closing argument. Finding no error, we affirm.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
¶ 2. In 1997, Hines began dating Audrey Arnold, who had two children at the time. Arnold's son, A.D., was born in 1994, and D.W., Arnold's daughter, was born in 1996. Hines and Arnold later had a daughter together, Breanna, who was born in 2000.
¶ 3. A.D. and D.W. did not have fathers in their lives, and looked to Hines as a father figure soon after Hines and Arnold started dating. Hines lived with Arnold and the children until the couple split up in April 2001. Hines later moved in with his sister, Diane Stokes.
¶ 4. Hines did not visit any of the children between April 2001 and May 2002. In 2002, while Hines was living with Stokes, he began visiting with all three of the children. The record indicates that Hines continued visiting with the children from 2002 through 2004, but stopped seeing the children after 2004. He did not see them again until 2011. The record reflects that neither A.D. nor D.W. told Arnold that there were problems with Hines's visits.
¶ 5. In 2010, Arnold took D.W. to a doctor's appointment. Arnold asked D.W. if she had ever had sexual relations with a man. She warned D.W. not to lie, claiming the doctor would be able to discern whether or not she was telling the truth. D.W. testified that she then told her mother that when she was around six or seven years old, Hines raped her while she was at Stokes's house during one of their visits. At trial, she testified that Hines was drunk and told her to go to the back bedroom belonging to Stokes. She stated that he locked the door and raped her despite her repeated requests that he stop. D.W. also stated that later that day, she was walking through Stokes's house to go to the restroom and witnessed Hines " messing with" her brother on a twin bed in another bedroom. She stated that Hines told her repeatedly not to tell anyone, including Arnold.
¶ 6. Arnold immediately contacted the authorities. During the authorities' investigation, A.D. admitted that Hines had assaulted him. A.D. testified that on the day in question, Hines took him into a back bedroom, told him to get on his hands and knees on the twin bed, pulled his pants down, and anally raped him. When asked why they had waited six years to come forward to their mother, both children indicated that they were embarrassed, frightened, and unsure how to tell Arnold what had happened.
¶ 7. Hines was indicted in May 2011 for statutory rape and sexual battery of a child stemming from the incidents occurring " on or about 2000-2004." Neshoba County Sheriff's Department Investigator Kevin Baysinger testified that the investigation eventually revealed that the incidents occurred sometime around August 2003. While the indictment was never altered or amended, the circuit court granted the defense's jury instructions D-8 and D-9, which narrowed the possible time frame of the crimes from May 2003 through August 2004.
¶ 8. After a trial on the merits in March 2012, the jury returned a guilty verdict on both counts. Hines's counsel filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, in the alternative, a new trial. The motion was denied. The circuit court then sentenced Hines as a habitual offender to life in ...