DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/28/2014
LAUDERDALE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. LESTER F. WILLIAMSON, JR. JUDGE
TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: PHILLIP S. “FLIP” WEINBERG KATHRYN R. McNAIR
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: ERIN ELIZABETH PRIDGEN GEORGE T. HOLMES
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: SCOTT STUART
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: BILBO MITCHELL
BEFORE DICKINSON, P.J., PIERCE AND COLEMAN, JJ.
¶1. This appeal arises from the conviction of Tyrone Boyd under Mississippi Code Section 97-5-33(6) for the exploitation of a child. Following conviction, the Circuit Court of Lauderdale County sentenced Boyd to a term of twelve years imprisonment with seven years to serve, and five years to be suspended and on reporting probation. Boyd appeals to this Court, claiming the trial court abused its discretion by admitting Facebook and text messages into evidence and that the State failed to properly authenticate them. Specifically, Boyd argues the evidence purporting to link him to the messages in question was not sufficient to prove that he, in fact, authored the messages. Boyd's contention is meritless, but more importantly, Boyd is barred from appealing on such grounds, as he failed to object to the items' admission at trial. We affirm Boyd's conviction and sentence.
STATEMENT OF THE FACTS
¶2. On June 13, 2012, RDS was living in Meehan, in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. At that time, RDS was twelve years old. Through Facebook, RDS received a friend request from someone named "Tyrone Boyd." RDS did not yet know Boyd, a thirty-two-year-old man, but the two shared a mutual friend, so she accepted his friend request. Boyd began sending Facebook messages to RDS, and RDS sent messages back to Boyd. The messages began innocuously. Boyd asked general questions of RDS, such as where she lived, who her siblings were and how old her siblings were. RDS asked Boyd his age. Boyd said that he was seventeen. RDS told Boyd that he was too old for her. At that point, RDS informed her stepfather about her conversations with Boyd. The stepfather said that the name "Tyrone Boyd" sounded familiar and he told RDS that he may have attended high school with Boyd. RDS subsequently gave her cell phone to her stepfather, and he began to send text messages to Boyd on RDS's cell phone, posing as RDS.
¶3. RDS testified that her stepfather and Boyd communicated using the Facebook phone application to send messages to one another. At one point in their conversations, Boyd asked if RDS was a virgin. At that time, Boyd was talking to the stepfather posing as RDS. When Boyd asked RDS her age, the stepfather replied that she was fourteen. Afterward, the stepfather, still posing as RDS, gave her phone number to Boyd, as the two wanted to communicate by text message, as well as through the Facebook application.
¶4. On June 26, 2012, Boyd text-messaged RDS's phone to say that he wanted to pick up RDS at her house. RDS said that she would rather walk down the street than have Boyd come to her house. The stepfather, posing as RDS said, "You know I'm a virgin." Boyd responded, "What that mean." Boyd then continued, "So, I'm – I'm going to be the first?" Boyd then wrote "You ready to lose – you ready to lose it?" Then he, as RDS, answered "Yeah." He next messaged Boyd that he wanted to meet him at the Spaceway store. The stepfather and his wife, RDS's mother, then drove to Spaceway. They testified Boyd drove into the Spaceway parking area, and the stepfather recognized his former high school classmate, Tyrone Boyd.
¶5. The stepfather and his wife went to the sheriff's department the next day. They spoke with police investigator Gypsi Ward. The stepfather gave Ward RDS's cell phone. Ward continued communicating with Boyd, pretending to be RDS. The second meeting was effectuated by text messages sent by Ward, now posing as RDS, to Boyd, in addition to telephone conversations between Boyd and one of RDS's older sisters, who also posed as RDS. Boyd appeared the second night, and deputies arrested him near the highway behind Spaceway. The deputies seized a cell phone when they arrested Boyd. After arresting Boyd, Ward confiscated his phone ...