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Lewis v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

November 28, 2017

LARRY LEWIS A/K/A LARRY D. LEWIS APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/15/2016

         PANOLA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. SMITH MURPHEY

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: PATRICK E. STEGALL

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: BILLY L. GORE

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: JOHN W. CHAMPION

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

          WESTBROOKS, J.

         ¶1. Following a jury trial in the Panola County Circuit Court on August 15-16, 2016, Larry Lewis was convicted of statutory rape of a child under fourteen and statutory rape of a child over fourteen but under sixteen. Lewis was sentenced as a habitual offender, under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-83 (Rev. 2015), to life imprisonment without parole in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Aggrieved, Lewis filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, in the alternative, a new trial, which the circuit court denied. Lewis timely appeals. After review of the record, we affirm.

          FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Charlene and her five children, including J.T., [1] moved in with Lewis in late 2012 or early 2013. At the time, J.T. was around twelve or thirteen years old. J.T. testified that she began having a sexual relationship with Lewis around this time. At the time, Lewis was approximately fifty years old or older.

         ¶3. Robert Harris, J.T.'s great uncle, contacted the Department of Human Services (DHS) to report an inappropriate relationship between J.T. and Lewis. DHS interviewed J.T. and her family regarding the allegations of the sexual relationship. Each of the family members, including J.T., denied the existence of a sexual relationship.

         ¶4. Shortly after, Charlene and her children moved from Lewis's home. Charlene testified that although she and her children moved out, J.T. continued to visit Lewis alone. However, the family returned to live with Lewis sometime later in 2014.

         ¶5. J.T. stated that she and Lewis stayed in his house together in one bedroom, while her mother and siblings slept in a camper located in the back of Lewis's property. Charlene denied that J.T. lived with Lewis alone; however, she testified that she liked to party and was frequently out late at night. As a result, the children were left unattended in the camper while Lewis was in the house.

         ¶6. In 2015, Zeandra Butler, Lewis's biological daughter, notified DHS that her father and J.T. were involved in an inappropriate relationship. A representative from DHS interviewed J.T. at her school. During this interview, J.T. reported that she and Lewis were involved in a sexual relationship and had been involved since she was ...


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