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Hales v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi

March 2, 2017

SAM HALES
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/17/2015

         JASPER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. EDDIE H. BOWEN

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: CHRIS HENNIS STEPHANIE WOOD RANCE N. ULMER

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

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: LAURA HOGAN TEDDER

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: DANIEL CHRISTOPHER JONES

          BEFORE RANDOLPH, P.J., KING AND BEAM, JJ.

          RANDOLPH, PRESIDING JUSTICE.

         ¶1. Sam Hales was convicted and sentenced to serve a term of twenty-five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) for one count of sexual battery and fifteen years for one count of touching a child for lustful purposes, for a total of forty years, to be served day for day. Hales argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) because the jury's verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Finding no error, we affirm Hales's convictions and sentences.

         FACTS

         ¶2. J.P.[1], who was fourteen years old and in the eighth grade at the time of trial, lived with his mother, father, and four sisters. J.P. testified that Hales lived near him and that he was related to Hales, but J.P. was unsure of the nature of their relationship. J.P. testified that Hales "did something bad to me when I was little." J.P. believed the first occurrence of abuse was in February when he was in third grade. He recalled the incident happened around his sister's birthday. J.P. testified that he had gone to Hales's house to get a phone number for his mother. Hales told J.P. to wait in the living room. While J.P. was waiting, Hales came out of the kitchen with his pants unzipped, playing with his penis. J.P. testified that Hales "took me and slung me in the chair and grabbed, put his hand behind my head and told me to suck his penis." Hales pushed J.P.'s head down to his penis, and Hales's penis went inside J.P.'s mouth. Hales kept his hand on J.P.'s neck and let J.P. go only when J.P.'s mother called on the house phone.

         ¶3. J.P. testified that the last time he was abused by Hales was 2013 when he was in fifth grade. J.P. believe the incident occurred around Halloween or Thanksgiving. J.P. testified that he was in Hales's bedroom and that Hales's mother, Delores, and brother, James House, also were at home at the time. Hales gave J.P. a "nasty book" with pictures of naked men and women to read. While J.P. was reading, Hales was "playing with himself, and he was trying to rub on me." J.P. testified that Hales was touching J.P.'s penis outside his clothes. After J.P. finished reading the book, Hales told J.P. to lean over and suck Hales's penis. J.P. stopped when Hales finally let go of his head.

         ¶4. J.P. testified that Hales was circumcised and had a mole on the tip of his penis. J.P. testified that he believed he was abused by Hales fifteen times. J.P. did not tell anyone about the abuse because he was worried about his mother, who recently had suffered a mini stroke, and he was afraid Hales would convince everyone that J.P. was lying. J.P. eventually told three of his cousins. J.P.'s oldest cousin told J.P.'s father what had happened, and J.P.'s father told J.P.'s mother. The first time J.P. talked to his mother, he told her that nothing had happened because Hales had told J.P. not to tell anyone. When his mother asked him again, he told her the truth, and his mother called the police. J.P. testified that he finally told the truth because he was tired of Hales abusing him. J.P. identified Hales as the person who had sexually assaulted and fondled him.

         ¶5. J.P. acknowledged that he knew Hales had suffered a stroke in 2012 and had used a cane ever since. J.P. testified that he had been admitted to Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services for approximately ...


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