LATRICE JACKSON A/K/A LATRICE MARLENE JACKSON A/K/A LATRICE M. JACKSON APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 05/24/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. EDDIE H. BOWEN JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
ERIN E. BRIGGS
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
ABBIE EASON KOONCE
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: MATT SULLIVAN
GRIFFIS, P.J., CARLTON AND GREENLEE, JJ.
Latrice Jackson appeals her conviction of abuse of a
vulnerable person and claims the circuit court erroneously
denied her motion for a trial continuance. We find no error
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Jackson was employed as a behavioral-health assistant (BHA)
at Millcreek Behavioral Health Facility in Magee,
Mississippi. Jackson was one of three BHAs who were assigned
to the Pecan Grove Cottage at Millcreek. Pecan Grove is a
residential facility, staffed twenty-four hours per day, for
mentally disabled females between the ages of thirteen and
seventeen years old.
Jane Doe is a resident of Pecan Grove. Jane is
nonverbal. She can feed herself, but needs assistance with
bathing, dressing, and going to the bathroom.
On June 4, 2013, Jackson and another BHA, Rebecca Ross, were
working the 2:30 - 10:30 p.m. shift. Jackson, Ross, and Jane
were upstairs in the day room. Jane was sitting in a chair by
the doorway. Jackson asked Jane to come and take a bath. When
Jane did not move, Jackson repeated her request. However,
Jane again refused to move. According to Ross, Jackson then
"grabbed [Jane] by her hair and like grabbed her hands
around her hair and drug her out of the chair and down the
hall to the bathroom."
Ross went to get another BHA, Shequita Preston, who was doing
laundry in the linen room. Ross stated that when Jane came
out of the bathroom, she was crying and upset. Ross further
stated that she heard Jackson call Jane "a fat B
word" as she came out of the bathroom.
Preston described Jane's scalp as "red" and
stated that "it looked like a plug had kind of been
pulled from [Jane's] hair - from her head." Preston
further stated she could see bald spots on Jane's head.
Preston explained that if a resident refused to bathe, the
BHA was simply supposed to note it in the resident's
chart. Preston reported the incident to her unit coordinator.
As a result of the incident, Jackson was terminated.
On September 9, 2013, Jackson was indicted in the Simpson
County Circuit Court on one count of abuse of a vulnerable
person in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section
43-47-19(1) and (3) (Rev. 2015). On September 16, 2013, a
public defender was appointed to represent Jackson. A jury
trial was scheduled for March 17, 2014. For reasons
unexplained in the record, the trial did not go forward as
On April 7, 2015, an agreed order of continuance was entered,
which reset the trial to September 8, 2015. Shortly before
trial, on August 27, 2015, Jackson was appointed new counsel,
who immediately moved for a continuance. As a result,
another continuance was granted. A new trial date was set for
March 31, 2016.
On March 10, 2016, twenty-one days before trial, Jackson
filed a "motion to inspect and copy certain records and
documents in the custody of Millcreek Behavioral Health
Facility." The State objected based on relevance and
because Jackson requested the State to produce documents that
were not in its possession. Following a hearing, the circuit
court granted the motion and ordered the State to obtain from
Millcreek: the employee files of all Millcreek staff members
who were interviewed and/or questioned in regard to the
events on June 4, 2013; a copy of the Millcreek handbook; and
Jane's medical history. An "order to subpoena
certain records and documents" was thereafter entered on
March 14, 2016.
Millcreek was subsequently contacted and received a copy of
the circuit court's order. Millcreek advised that due to
the amount of time that had passed since the incident, many
of the requested documents were in an off-site storage
facility and would have to be located and brought back to the
facility in order to be copied and produced. The documents,
which amounted to approximately 1, 000 pages, were ultimately
delivered to defense counsel in three separate deliveries
over the course of one week, with the final delivery on March
On March 24, 2016, just prior to the final delivery of the
documents, Jackson filed a motion to dismiss or, in the
alternative, motion to continue, arguing that the State had
failed to provide a speedy trial and failed to "fully
comply" with the circuit court's order regarding the
production of the Millcreek documents. An agreed order of
continuance was entered on March 28, 2016, to allow both
parties additional time to review the recently produced
documents. This was the third continuance of record granted
by the circuit court. The trial was reset for April 18, 2016,
which gave counsel approximately twenty days to review the
documents prior to trial.
On the morning of trial, defense counsel moved ore tenus for
a continuance. Defense counsel explained she did not have
sufficient time to review the "hundreds and hundreds of
documents" that were produced and needed additional time
"to locate some of [the] witnesses that [would] be
crucial to [Jackson's] defense." The circuit court
ruled as follows:
Due process requires a speedy trial. This case was indicted
on September the 9th, 2013. Today is April the 18th, 2016. We
have a special venire out in the courtroom ready to go
forward. On the order of arraignment this case was originally
set for March 17th, 2014. That's when Ray Therrell was
the attorney for the defendant. On September the 8th, 2015,
because Megan [Stuard] had just been appointed to represent
the defendant, this case was continued. It was originally set
for 2015. At the request of the defendant it was continued
until March 31st, 2016. At that time, the defendant stated
that she had not or had recently received a voluminous
discovery from the [State] and needed additional time. The
Court offered to reset the case during the term and give
[defense counsel] two weeks extra to go through those
documents, but after all was said and done, on April 18th,
2016, which is today, the case was set for today from
Wednesday, March 31st, 2016. So we can go [into] the next
term and you'll have the same excuses that you've got
this term. So I'm going to overrule your motion for a
Following a jury trial, Jackson was found guilty. The circuit
court deferred sentencing and ordered a presentence report.
On May 24, 2016, Jackson was sentenced to twenty years, with
fifteen years to serve in the custody of the Mississippi
Department of Corrections, followed by five years'
postrelease supervision. Jackson was ordered to attend
anger-management classes while in custody.
Jackson filed a motion for a new trial, a motion for a
judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and a motion for a
directed verdict of not guilty, all of which were denied.
Jackson now appeals and argues the circuit ...