of Judgment: 08/18/2015
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.
GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES AND CARLTON, JJ.
A DeSoto County jury found Frank Friday guilty of three
counts of sexual battery and two counts of fondling of
Betty, 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,
OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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