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Friday v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

February 14, 2017

FRANK THOMAS FRIDAY A/K/A FRANK FRIDAY APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          Date of Judgment: 08/18/2015

         COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: DESOTO COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. GERALD W. CHATHAM SR. TRIAL JUDGE.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: ERIN ELIZABETH BRIGGS.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: ABBIE EASON KOONCE.

          BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES AND CARLTON, JJ.

          BARNES, J.

         ¶1. A DeSoto County jury found Frank Friday guilty of three counts of sexual battery and two counts of fondling of Betty,[1] who, at the time of the crime, was his twelve-year-old stepdaughter. The trial judge sentenced Friday to twenty years with five years suspended for Count III (sexual battery), ten years for Count IV (fondling), ten years for Count V (fondling), twenty years with five suspended for Count VI (sexual battery), and twenty years with five suspended for Count VII (sexual battery) in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, followed by five years of reporting postrelease supervision and five years of nonreporting postrelease supervision. Counts IV, V, and VI were ordered to be served concurrently to the sentence in Count III, with Count VII to be served consecutively to the sentence in Count III. Friday now appeals, arguing the trial court erred in refusing to grant funds for an independent DNA examination, and in failing to conduct a tender-years hearing. Finding only harmless error, we affirm.

         STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. On January 9, 2014, Detective Tim Stark of the Horn Lake Police Department received a telephone call from the school resource officer at Horn Lake Middle School. Detective Stark learned from a Mississippi Department of Human Services (DHS) social worker at the school that two students, then-fourteen-year-old Abby and twelve-year-old Betty, had reported being sexually abused by their stepfather, Friday. Detective Stark arranged for Betty to go to the Memphis Rape Crisis Center for a sexual-assault examination; he also interviewed the children's mother, Karen, about the allegations.

         ¶3. Betty's sexual-assault kit was logged and stored at the police station until it could be delivered to the crime lab. A search warrant was obtained for Friday's DNA and compared to the vaginal swabs from Betty's sexual-assault kit. The kit contained seminal fluid found in Betty's vagina, which matched Friday's cheek-swab DNA by a "statistic of one in greater than ten billion." Both Abby and Betty had forensic interviews at Healing Hearts Child Advocacy Center in Southaven, Mississippi, which Detective Stark observed. Ultimately, Friday was arrested, and a seven-count indictment ensued.[2]

         ¶4. At trial, both Abby and Betty testified. Abby, the older sister, testified that Friday moved in with the family after he and her mother had been dating several months. Abby testified that Friday "messed with" her younger sister, Betty. Once Abby had sneaked into Karen and Friday's bedroom to "pop out and scare" him. She hid behind the bed with the lights off. Abby then saw Betty go into the bedroom with Friday and saw Betty's clothes drop to the floor. Friday and Betty got into bed, and Abby heard the bed squeaking.

         ¶5. Eventually, Abby got "fed up with it" and "couldn't take any more"; so, one morning before school she told her mother that Friday was "touching" her and Betty. Her mother looked "really sad and hurt." Abby testified the abuse had been going on for perhaps a couple of years; the last time was a few days before she told her mother. Betty was not in the room when Abby told their mother. At school that day, Abby was noticeably upset; so the school counselor asked what was wrong. Abby told her of Friday's sexual abuse, which triggered a DHS investigation and Detective Stark's involvement.

         ¶6. Betty also testified at trial. She explained that her mother worked nights at a casino; so she and Abby were often alone with Friday. Betty testified that the night before Abby told their mother, Friday had instructed Betty to take off her clothes and lie on the bed. As Betty put it, Friday touched her in places that would normally be covered with a bikini. He then put "his front" "in [her] front." Betty stated she was thirteen at the time, and she felt "really bad" and guilty after it happened.

         ¶7. Betty relayed to the jury another incident where "just about the same thing that happened in the bedroom" happened on the couch when she and Friday were watching television. Friday had put Betty's hand on his "private part." Friday had also kissed Betty, put his ...


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