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Moore v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 7, 2015

ROBERT ANTHONY MOORE A/K/A ROBERT MOORE A/K/A ROBERT A. MOORE, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

Page 729

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/06/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LISA P. DODSON. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: CONVICTED OF COUNT I, SEXUAL BATTERY, AND COUNT II, EXPLOITATION OF A CHILD, AND SENTENCED TO TWENTY YEARS IN COUNT I AND TWENTY YEARS IN COUNT II, BOTH IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, WITH THE SENTENCES TO RUN CONCURRENTLY AND WITH CREDIT FOR TIME SERVED; TO PAY A $1,000 FINE IN COUNT I AND A $50,000 FINE IN COUNT II, WITH BOTH FINES SUSPENDED; TO PAY $1,000 TO THE MISSISSIPPI CHILDREN'S TRUST FUND; AND TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER.

AFFIRMED.

FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER, BY: GEORGE T. HOLMES, BENJAMIN ALLEN SUBER.

FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: BILLY L. GORE, JOHN R. HENRY JR.

BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND MAXWELL, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P. JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 730

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

MAXWELL, J.

¶1. Modern cell phones are more than just phones. Because they contain " a broad array of private information," a warrant is generally required before a cell phone may be searched.[1] That is why the officer in this case obtained a warrant for Robert Anthony Moore's cell phone before he seized it, turned it on, and searched through Moore's photographs. These pictures corroborated the minor victim's allegation that Moore had used the phone to photograph his sexual battery of her.

¶2. Moore tried to suppress the photos, claiming the warrant only authorized the officer to seize his phone, not search its contents. But the facts and circumstances supporting the warrant clearly showed the phone was being seized because it allegedly contained photographs of the crime. Thus, we find the warrant authorized the officer to search the photographs stored on Moore's phone.

¶3. But even had it not, we find the officer reasonably believed the warrant

Page 731

gave him such authority. Such good-faith reliance makes the exclusionary rule inapplicable. So the circuit judge did not abuse her discretion when she denied Moore's motion to exclude the photographs.

¶4. Our review shows these photographs, when coupled with the victim's testimony, sufficiently supported Moore's conviction. And the judge did not err when she denied Moore's motion to sever. We affirm the judgment of conviction.

Background Facts and Procedural History

I. Sexual Battery

¶5. Fifteen-year-old Sarah[2] lived with her grandmother. So did her younger sisters and her " cousin," Moore.[3] Early morning New Year's Day, while everyone was still asleep--including Sarah's boyfriend who was staying over--Sarah got up to use the restroom. On her way back to her room, Moore called out to her. Sarah testified that, when she went into Moore's room, Moore blocked her from leaving and asked her to have sex with him. Sarah said she tried to leave but Moore physically threatened her. Moore then asked her to take off her clothes. Out of fear for herself and her family, she complied. Moore then asked the naked Sarah to pose herself in various positions so he could take sexually explicit photographs of her. Moore then sexually battered her, photographing that as well.

II. Investigation and Indictment

¶6. Sarah did not initially tell anyone what happened, especially her boyfriend, who she feared may get hurt if he confronted Moore. But days later, rumors about the photographs began circulating at school. Sarah went to the school resource officer and tearfully told her what had happened days earlier. The school officer contacted the Biloxi Police Department, who sent over an investigator to interview Sarah. From this interview, the investigator learned Moore had used a black LG TracFone to photograph the crime.

¶7. The day before, Moore had been arrested for an unrelated charge and was in custody at the Harrison County Jail. Among the items on Moore's person when he was arrested was a black LG phone matching Sarah's description. The investigator obtained a search warrant for the phone, which was located in Moore's property bag at the jail. Included in the underlying facts and circumstances to support the search warrant was Sarah's statement that Moore " photographed her with his cellular phone during the assault." After retrieving the phone, the investigator turned it on and scrolled through the stored pictures, immediately finding the photographs Sarah had described.

¶8. Moore was arrested on April 18, 2012. On June 19, 2012, the investigator obtained a second search warrant--this one expressly authorizing him to search and download any and all electronic ...


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