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Strickland v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 4, 2017

STANLEY ROSS STRICKLAND A/K/A STANLEY STRICKLAND APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/19/2015

         NESHOBA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. VERNON R. COTTEN TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: EDMUND J. PHILLIPS JR. JAMES EDWIN SMITH III

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: LAURA HOGAN TEDDER JASON L. DAVIS

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: MARK SHELDON DUNCAN

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., GREENLEE AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.

          WESTBROOKS, J.

         ¶1. Stanley Ross Strickland was convicted in the Circuit Court of Neshoba County of two counts of statutory rape. Strickland was convicted of having sex with his underage biological daughter on at least two separate occasions. He was sentenced on each count to thirty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with the sentences to run consecutively for a total of sixty years. Strickland timely filed a motion for a new trial, which the court denied. He appeals and, finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. S.T.[1] had been in and out of foster homes; however, in April 2012, S.T. lived with her mother and siblings in a double-wide mobile home. On April 7, 2012, S.T. had an unsupervised visit with Strickland at his residence. That night, Strickland watched pornographic movies with S.T. and inappropriately touched her. Later that night, Strickland engaged in sexual intercourse with S.T. After the sexual intercourse ended, S.T. went in the living room and watched television with her sister, M.T., Strickland's other biological daughter. S.T. did not have her cellular phone during this visit and did not notify her mother. Strickland took S.T. and M.T. home the next day and picked them up again later that evening.

         ¶3. On the evening of April 8, 2012, S.T. took a shower at Strickland's home while Strickland observed her through a window. Following her shower, S.T. sat on the couch in the living room while M.T. showered. Once M.T. finished, Strickland took S.T. into his bedroom and forced her to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol with him. They engaged in sexual intercourse soon after. During both sexual encounters, Strickland wore a condom. Strickland told S.T. to refrain from discussing their sexual encounters with others, because he would kill her if she did. She complied, until her mother, Luna Stafford, discovered inappropriate text messages between Strickland and S.T. Upon her discovery, Stafford resumed the inappropriate conversation with Strickland, posing as S.T.

         ¶4. During these text-message conversations, Strickland alluded to the sexual encounters he had with his underage daughter, S.T., and how he wanted to engage in sexual intercourse with her again. When Stafford, acting as S.T., indicated that she did not want to continue their sexual relationship (because of kinship), Strickland resorted to manipulation and bribery to coax S.T. into having sexual intercourse with him again. Strickland offered cell-phone minutes and money, and alluded to entertaining suicidal thoughts as a form of manipulation. Another form of manipulation included stating that he had engaged in sexual intercourse with his younger daughter, M.T. In an attempt to make S.T. jealous, Strickland sent a picture message of two frogs copulating, purportedly sent by M.T. to Strickland. Strickland indicated that after having sex with S.T., he no longer wanted a sexual relationship with his younger daughter, M.T.

         ¶5. Stafford took the text messages to her local sheriff's department, and Strickland was arrested and indicted shortly thereafter. After trial, Strickland was convicted of two counts of statutory rape and sentenced on each count to thirty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with the sentences to run consecutively for a total of sixty years to serve. On appeal, Strickland contends the State did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Strickland committed statutory rape against a minor. Finding no merit to the issues, we affirm Strickland's conviction and sentence.

         STANDARD ...


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