DONALD ALLEN CAVES A/K/A DONALD CAVES A/K/A DONALD A. CAVES, APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/17/2014
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: PEARL RIVER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ANTHONY ALAN MOZINGO
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER GEORGE T. HOLMES MOLLIE MARIE MCMILLIN
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL MELANIE DOTSON THOMAS
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: HALDON J. KITTRELL
BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., CARLTON AND MAXWELL, JJ.
¶1. Donald A. Caves appeals the conviction entered against him on April 9, 2014, by the Pearl River County Circuit Court for failure to register as a sex offender pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated section 45-33-33 (Supp. 2014). The trial court sentenced Caves as a habitual offender pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-83 (Supp. 2014) to life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections without the possibility of parole. On appeal, Caves argues: (1) the trial court erred in excluding the testimony of a defense witness, and (2) the verdict is against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Finding no error, we affirm Caves's conviction and sentence.
¶2. In May 2012, Caves; his live-in girlfriend, Amber Thomas; and his children moved from the home Caves had lived in for twenty years to another home two blocks away. Caves and Thomas both testified that the previous home was unsanitary. Caves testified that a Department of Human Services social worker visited his family and informed them that their home had mold and that they could not continue to live there. Caves testified that based on this information, he moved his family to the new home.
¶3. In 1990, Caves was convicted of touching of a child for lustful purposes and is required by section 45-33-33 to register as a sex offender and to notify the Department of Public Safety (DPS) of any changes to his residency. In 2012, Caves failed to personally appear at the DPS and register ten days before moving his family to the new residence. Consequently, Caves was arrested.
¶4. On June 6, 2013, a Pearl River County grand jury indicted Caves for sexual battery and failure to register as a sex offender under section 45-33-33. The indictment was later amended to charge Caves as a habitual offender under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-83. Both the State and Caves's appointed counsel agreed to proceed to trial on the failure-to-register charge, saving the sexual-battery charge for a later date.
¶5. Caves testified in his own defense at trial, stating that he lacked the ability to read or write, and thus possessed no actual knowledge that he had a duty to appear at the DPS ten days before he planned to move. The jury heard testimony from the following: Chris Robbins, an investigator with the Pearl River County Sheriff's Department; Thomas, Caves's former girlfriend; Kristin Thibodeaux, the records clerk for the Pearl River County Sheriff's Department; and Charlie Hill, acting director of the sex-offender registry for the State.
¶6. Thomas testified that she and Caves dated for about two and a half years, and that she knew that the sex-offender statute required Caves to re-register as a sex offender every ninety days and to notify the registration office of any change of address. Thomas stated that Caves did not attempt to re-register as a sex offender when they moved. Thomas testified that she had accompanied Caves in the past when he would go to register as a sex offender. Regarding Caves's ability to read and write, Thomas testified, "He can read, but not like high school level, " and "I've seen him write." Thomas further specified that to her knowledge, Caves "[doesn't] have difficulty" reading and writing.
¶7. Thibodeaux testified that as the records clerk of the sheriff's department, she fills out the initial and re-registration paperwork for sex offenders. Thibodeaux testified that she personally went over the registration paperwork with Caves, and she also read the forms to him. Thibodeaux affirmed that she read the form to Caves, informing him that he possessed the duty to record any change of address by personally appearing at the DPS driver's license station not less than ten days before changing addresses. Caves admitted ...