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Shelton v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

October 28, 2014

BENJAMIN SHELTON A/K/A BENJAMIN LEE SHELTON A/K/A BENNY A/K/A BENJAMIN L. SHELTON, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/24/2012.

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LOWNDES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LEE J. HOWARD.

FOR APPELLANT: RODNEY A. RAY.

FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: JEFFREY A. KLINGFUSS.

BEFORE IRVING, P.J., ISHEE, MAXWELL AND JAMES, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ROBERTS, CARLTON, MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ., CONCUR. JAMES, J., CONCURS IN PART WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION.

OPINION

Page 217

ISHEE, J.

[¶1] Benjamin Shelton was convicted of sexual battery by a jury in the Lowndes County Circuit Court on August 24, 2012. He was sentenced to twelve years, with five years suspended conditioned on post-release supervision, and seven years to serve, all in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). On August 30, 2012, Shelton filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, in the alternative, a new trial. The motion was denied. Aggrieved, Shelton appeals.

STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

[¶2] On April 29, 2009, Shelton was indicted by a grand jury in Lowndes County for two counts of sexual battery and one count of solicitation. At the beginning of the trial, the State moved to amend the indictment as to the date in the charge of solicitation. The circuit court sustained the motion, severed the third count from the indictment, and set it for a separate trial. As such, a jury trial was then held on August 21-23, 2012, on the two-count indictment, both counts of sexual battery.

[¶3] At trial, F.N.L.[1] testified that he met Shelton in the summer of 2008 when he began attending Eastview Baptist Church in Columbus, Mississippi. F.N.L., who was seventeen years old at the time, lived near the church with his mother and younger brother. He stated that he attended church every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. On Sunday mornings, Shelton would sometimes teach F.N.L.'s Sunday school class. F.N.L. stated that Shelton helped with the church's youth group and took members of the youth group, including F.N.L., out to eat and, in May 2008, to the Market Street Festival.

[¶4] In July 2008, F.N.L. attended a two-night youth retreat that the church,

Page 218

conducted at Lake Lowndes in Lowndes County, Mississippi. According to him, there were approximately fifteen to twenty children and four to five chaperones present on the retreat. The group stayed in a duplex-like cabin, with all ...


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