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Griffin v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 17, 2018


          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/15/2013





         EN BANC.

          WILSON, J.

         ¶1. Following a jury trial in the Lowndes County Circuit Court, Lori Griffin was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to twenty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) with four years suspended and four years of post-release supervision. Through appointed appellate counsel, Griffin challenges two of the trial court's evidentiary rulings and argues that there is insufficient evidence to support the conviction or, alternatively, that the jury's verdict was against the weight of the evidence. In a pro se brief, Griffin raises additional evidentiary issues, alleges ineffective assistance of counsel at trial, and argues that her sentence violates the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. We find no error and affirm Griffin's conviction and sentence.


         ¶2. Lori Griffin rented an apartment in Columbus in July 2009. Dean Loftis, a local realtor, managed the property for Griffin's landlord. In December 2009, the heat went out in Griffin's apartment, and Loftis loaned Griffin a space heater to use until the heat could be repaired. Griffin also tried to use her kitchen oven to heat the apartment, but she forgot that she had left a pizza box in the oven. The pizza box caught fire and damaged the oven. Between 5:30 and 6 p.m. on Friday, December 11, 2009, Griffin told Loftis that the pilot light on her water heater had been out since Tuesday, although she had not reported the problem to Loftis previously. Loftis told Griffin that her maintenance man was out of town but that she would send him to the apartment as soon as he returned after lunch the following day. As promised, the maintenance man went to Griffin's apartment on Saturday, but when he arrived, Griffin told him that a friend had already fixed the issue for her.

         ¶3. When Loftis went to her office on Sunday, December 13, 2009, there was a message from Griffin on her answering machine. Griffin had left the message on Saturday morning and "seemed to be very angry" that the maintenance man had not arrived yet. Loftis decided that she would go see Griffin on Monday to retrieve her space heater and check on the damage to the stove in the apartment. Loftis also wanted to discuss Griffin's voicemail and to try "[t]o have a better rapport with her."

         ¶4. When Loftis arrived at Griffin's apartment on Monday, she knocked on the door, and Griffin came out onto the porch. Loftis told Griffin that she wanted to retrieve her heater and discuss Griffin's voicemail. They talked briefly on the porch, and then Griffin started to walk back into the apartment. Loftis started to follow Griffin inside and had "just put [her] foot on the threshold" when Griffin turned around and said, "Wait, I didn't invite you into my house. You don't come into my house without an invitation." Loftis told Griffin that she also wanted to take a look at the stove, and she said again that she wanted to discuss Griffin's voicemail and why she had left it.

         ¶5. When Loftis questioned Griffin about the voicemail, Griffin "went into a fit of rage." Griffin "ran out onto the porch and grabbed [Loftis] by her head." Griffin cursed Loftis and told her that she was "going to regret coming here today." Loftis said that she was going to call the police, and Griffin responded that she would not be able to call the police. While Griffin was cursing and threatening Loftis, she was also pulling chunks of hair out of Loftis's head until Loftis's scalp began to bleed. Then Griffin began hitting Loftis and threw her against the wall. Loftis's head hit the wall, and her eyeglasses fell off. Loftis became dizzy, and Griffin threw her down onto the porch. Then Griffin got on top of Loftis.[1] Loftis testified, "I was face down on the [porch]. She was on top of me. And she was . . . beating me in the head and telling me what she was going to do to me and how I was going to regret coming there and how many times she had done this before."

         ¶6. Loftis saw her shoe lying on the porch to her side, and she managed to pick it up and strike Griffin with it. Loftis testified, "I [thought] I would try to hit her with my shoe and get her off me long enough for me to run to [my] car." After Loftis hit Griffin with her shoe, she noticed that Griffin's two- or three-year-old son had walked out onto the porch and was holding a phone. Loftis got the phone and tried to call 911, but Griffin knocked the phone out of her hand. Griffin was cut and bleeding where Loftis's shoe had hit her, and her little boy saw the blood and began to cry. Loftis said, "Lori, your little son doesn't need to see this." Griffin responded, "Yes, he does. Yes, he does. He needs to know how to do this." Griffin then told her son, "She's a mean lady. She's a mean lady. Hit her. Hit her." The little boy obeyed and hit Loftis, and Griffin "started laughing [a] wicked laugh because [the little boy] was hitting [Loftis]."

         ¶7. Griffin then grabbed Loftis by her hair, pulled her back, and made her look at the blood on Griffin's face. Griffin said, "You see now what you've done? . . . I've got to kill you." And then Griffin hit Loftis in the eye with a closed fist, and she said again, "I'm going to have to kill you." According to Loftis, Griffin was on top of her and continued to beat her with her fists, while telling her "that she definitely was going to kill [her]" and that "[s]he had done this before and she knew how to do it and . . . get [away] with it." Loftis begged Griffin to stop; she told her that she had osteoporosis and that her ribs were going to break. Griffin responded, "Good. Good." Griffin said again that she was going to kill Loftis and began bouncing up and down on Loftis's back until Loftis felt one of her ribs break.

         ¶8. Loftis saw her car keys lying on the porch, and she was able to reach them and cause her car horn to honk several times. At this point, a friend of Griffin's, "Matt, " walked up onto the porch. Griffin said to him, "Hi, Matt. I'm going to kill this woman." Matt did not do anything to stop Griffin, and Griffin "started choking [Loftis] so hard that [Loftis] thought [her] eyes were going to pop out." Loftis begged Matt to make Griffin stop, and Matt finally said, "Lori, don't kill her." But Griffin responded, "I don't have an option. I've got to kill her. She'll go to the cops and I'll go to jail and my kid will go back to the reservation." Matt eventually persuaded Griffin that Loftis would not "go to the cops" because he would "take care of her" if she tried to do so. Griffin eventually agreed to allow Loftis to leave after Loftis promised that she would not go to the police. Griffin told Matt that she was "making a mistake by not killing [Loftis]." Griffin also stomped on Loftis's eyeglasses and threw them into the street. Matt retrieved Loftis's broken eyeglasses and car keys and gave them to her so that she could leave.

         ¶9. Loftis drove home, and her husband called the police. A police officer came to her house and then called the paramedics. The paramedics responded, insisted that Loftis needed to go to the hospital, and took her to the hospital in an ambulance. Doctors ordered an MRI to check for head injuries; examined her neck, which was red and bruised; and x-rayed her ribs. Loftis had in fact broken a rib. Loftis also had bruises on her arms and shoulders and bruises, cuts, and blood on her face and scalp, and a black eye.

         ¶10. Griffin testified to a very different version of events. She said that there were many problems with her apartment and that Loftis did not respond promptly to her calls. She testified that Loftis came to her apartment at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, December 14, 2009, and began "banging on the front door, " "screaming at the top her lungs, " and demanding to talk to Griffin "about that nasty message." Griffin testified that she was making her son breakfast at the time and was wearing only a sports bra and blue jeans. According to Griffin, after she opened the door, Loftis followed her back into her kitchen without her permission. Griffin claimed that when she asked Loftis to leave, Loftis said, "I'll come in whenever I like . . . . This is how we do it in the south." Griffin testified that she then tried to call 911, but Loftis grabbed her hand and knocked the phone away from her. Griffin testified that when she bent down to pick up the phone, Loftis "took off her shoe and started hitting [Griffin] in the head with it."

         ¶11. Griffin testified that her "fight and flight responses just kicked in" and she was "in survival mode." She "sprang up and got [Loftis] by her shoulders, " she pushed Loftis back to the door, and both women tripped and fell out onto the front porch. Griffin testified that she sat on top of Loftis on the front porch, but she claimed that Loftis tried to hit her again with the shoe and tried to stab her with car keys. Griffin testified that her son was crying, and she tried to tell him to go back inside the apartment. Griffin testified that Loftis next tried to "grab [her] son"-although Griffin acknowledged that she was still sitting on top of Loftis at this point. Griffin claimed that Loftis actually managed to grab her son by his shirt, and Griffin responded by hitting Loftis in the face and head.

         ¶12. Griffin testified that her neighbor and acquaintance, Matthew Evans, heard her screaming for help. She testified that Evans took her son inside the apartment and then came back outside. Griffin testified that she let Loftis get up, and Loftis said she "just want[ed] to go and forget [the] day ever happened." According to Griffin, Loftis continued to demand her space heater, so Griffin brought the heater outside and left it next to Loftis's car. Loftis then departed. Griffin called 911, and the police responded. She told the police that she did not want to press charges unless Loftis did. Griffin then went to the hospital. She had a single cut on her head, which was about half an inch in length. A doctor closed the cut with two medical staples. The doctor noticed a bruise on one of Griffin's fingers but no other injuries.

         ¶13. Griffin was indicted in May 2010 and released on bond. She subsequently absconded to North Carolina. In December 2011, a bench warrant was issued for her arrest after she failed to appear for trial. She remained on the lam until she was apprehended in Alabama and returned to Mississippi to stand trial. Her case proceeded to trial in March 2013. Her first trial ended in a hung jury and a mistrial. At her second trial, the jury found her guilty of aggravated assault. The circuit court sentenced her to twenty years in MDOC custody, with four years suspended and four years of post-release supervision, and ordered her to pay a $1, 000 fine, restitution, and court costs.

         ¶14. After Griffin was sentenced, her trial counsel filed a motion for a "directed verdict" or a new trial, which the circuit court denied. Griffin then informed her trial counsel that she did not want to appeal. On March 28, 2013, the circuit court held a hearing and questioned Griffin to ensure that she understood that she had a right to appeal and a right to appointed counsel on appeal. Griffin confirmed that she understood this, that she had consulted with trial counsel, and that she did not want to appeal. The circuit court found that Griffin had knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently waived her right to appeal.

         ¶15. Almost six months later, on September 17, 2013, Griffin filed a pro se, fill-in-the-blank "Motion for Appointment of Appellate Counsel and for Other Relief" in which she requested permission to file an out-of-time appeal pursuant to Rule 4 of the Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure. The circuit court denied her request. The court noted that it had "no issues with, or objections to, [Griffin] seeking an out-of-time appeal, " but the court no longer had jurisdiction to grant her request under Rule 4. See M.R.A.P. 4(g). The court instructed Griffin that "the proper remedy" would be for her "to seek leave to file an out-of-time appeal from the Supreme Court of Mississippi under Rule 2(c) of the Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure."

         ¶16. Griffin followed the circuit court's instructions and filed a motion in the Supreme Court requesting leave under Rule 2(c) to file an out-of-time appeal. A panel of the Supreme Court found that Griffin's "motion should be dismissed without prejudice to [her] right to seek an out-of-time appeal by filing a petition for post-conviction collateral relief in the trial court." Griffin v. State, No. 2014-M-00688 (Miss. June 20, 2014) (citing Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-5(1)(i) (Rev. 2015)).

         ¶17. Griffin then returned to the circuit court and filed a pro se, fill-in-the-blank "Post-Conviction Petition for Out of Time Appeal, Appointment of Appellate Counsel, and for Other Relief." Griffin's petition was filed in a separate case with a civil cause number. Griffin's certificate of service shows that she served the district attorney. On September 4, 2014, without requesting a response from the State, the circuit court granted Griffin's motion for an out-of-time appeal and directed her to file a notice of appeal within twenty days. The court directed the circuit clerk to send a copy of its order "to all parties, " and the circuit clerk's records show that a copy was sent to the district attorney. Griffin then filed a notice of appeal in her criminal case on September 16, 2014.

         ¶18. The Office of State Public Defender, Indigent Appeals Division, was appointed to represent Griffin on appeal. Griffin's appointed counsel argues that (1) the State improperly introduced evidence of Loftis's reputation for having a character for truthfulness, (2) the trial court erred by allowing the State to cross-examine Griffin about having put her child up for adoption and by not allowing Griffin to explain her reason for doing so, (3) the evidence was insufficient to convict Griffin of aggravated assault, and (4) the jury's verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. See Parts II-IV, infra. In a pro se supplemental brief, Griffin argues that (1) a prior written statement by Loftis should have been admitted into evidence, (2) the trial court erred by admitting "distorted" black-and-white photos into evidence, (3) her trial counsel should have demanded a speedy trial, and (4) her sentence is cruel and unusual punishment and violates the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. See Parts V-VIII, infra. We address these issues in turn below, find no reversible error, and affirm Griffin's conviction and sentence.


         I. This Court has jurisdiction to consider Griffin's appeal.

         ¶19. After the parties filed their briefs on appeal, this Court ordered supplemental briefing on the questions whether the circuit court properly granted Griffin's motion for an out-of-time appeal and whether this Court has jurisdiction to consider the appeal. The State argues that the circuit court erred by granting Griffin's motion-and that this Court lacks appellate jurisdiction-because Griffin did not show that she failed to perfect a timely appeal "through no fault of her own."

         ¶20. The State's argument would have been a valid basis for opposing Griffin's motion for post-conviction relief. The Uniform Post-Conviction Collateral Relief Act permits a prisoner to file "a motion for an out-of-time appeal if the person claims . . . [t]hat he is entitled to an out-of-time appeal." Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-5(1)(i). However, "[t]hat remedy is able to protect inmates who through no fault of their own have not had an appeal of their underlying conviction." DeLoach v. State, 890 So.2d 934, 936 (¶7) (Miss. Ct. App. 2004) (emphasis added; quotation marks omitted). "[A] defendant seeking an out-of-time appeal must, by a preponderance of the evidence, demonstrate that he asked his attorney to appeal within the time allowed but that the attorney failed to appeal, and such failure was not the defendant's fault." Arnold v. State, 93 So.3d 908, 912 (¶10) (Miss. Ct. App. 2012) (emphasis added). Thus, a prisoner generally is not entitled to an out-of-time appeal when, as in this case, she knowingly and voluntarily waives the right to appeal. See Davis v. State, 36 So.3d 456, 457-58, 460-61 (¶¶3, 12-15) (Miss. Ct. App. 2010).

         ¶21. However, the circuit court granted Griffin an out-of-time appeal in a final judgment entered in a separate civil, post-conviction action. See Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-23(6) (Rev. 2015) ("[An] order [granting or denying post-conviction relief] is a final judgment and shall be conclusive until reversed."). The State could have moved for reconsideration or appealed from the judgment in the post-conviction case.[2] See Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-25(1) (Rev. 2015) ("A final judgment entered under [the Uniform Post-Conviction Collateral Relief Act] may be reviewed by the supreme court of Mississippi on appeal brought either by the prisoner or the state on such terms and conditions as are provided for in criminal cases." (emphasis added)). However, the State did not appeal, so the judgment in the post-conviction case became final. Moreover, the State does not argue that the judgment in the post- conviction case is void.[3] Therefore, there is no basis for this Court to look behind that judgment. The final judgment in the post-conviction case gives this Court jurisdiction to consider Griffin's out-of-time appeal from her criminal conviction.

         II. Griffin waived any objection to testimony about Loftis's reputation for having a character for truthfulness.

         ¶22. Griffin argues that the circuit court erred by permitting six witnesses to testify in rebuttal that Loftis had a reputation for having a truthful character. Griffin argues that it was error to admit this testimony because Loftis's character for truthfulness was never attacked. The State responds that this testimony was properly admitted in response to Griffin's accusation that the police "coached" Loftis by telling her that Griffin previously had been charged with aggravated assault. Griffin further accused Loftis of tailoring and fabricating parts of her statement to police based on their "coaching." Griffin leveled these accusations in a pretrial letter to one of the circuit judges, and the State cross-examined Griffin about the letter and introduced it into evidence at trial.

         ¶23. Mississippi Rule of Evidence 608(a) provides that "[a] witness's credibility may be attacked or supported by testimony about the witness's reputation for having a character for truthfulness or untruthfulness, or by testimony in the form of an opinion about that character." M.R.E. 608(a). However, "evidence of truthful character is admissible only after the witness's character for truthfulness has been attacked." Id.; see Brent v. State, 929 So.2d 952, 957 (¶¶11-13) (Miss. Ct. App. 2005).

         ¶24. "A trial court's admission of testimony is reviewed for an abuse of discretion." Chaupette v. State, 136 So.3d 1041, 1045 (¶7) (Miss. 2014). "We give great deference to the discretion of the trial judge, and unless we conclude that the [decision] was arbitrary and clearly erroneous, amounting to an abuse of discretion, the trial judge's decision will stand." Id. (quotation marks, brackets omitted). "Moreover, we may reverse a case only if the admission or exclusion of evidence results in prejudice and harm or adversely affects a substantial right of a party." Id. (comma and quotation marks omitted).

         ¶25. Having reviewed the testimony of the six witnesses at issue, we find that Griffin never objected to the introduction of evidence that Loftis had a reputation for having a character for truthfulness. Griffin did not object when the prosecution asked the first of the six witnesses, Tina Dodd, about Loftis's reputation for having a character for truthfulness.[4]Griffin did object when the next witness, Valeria Anthony, began to testify about her specific interactions with Loftis. However, when the prosecutor rephrased the question, and Anthony confined her answer to Loftis's reputation for having a character for truthfulness, Griffin made no objection. Next, Griffin did not object to Rhonda Sanders's testimony about Loftis's reputation for having a character for truthfulness. Griffin did object when the fourth of these witnesses, Joe Hollowell, testified simply that Loftis is "very truthful"; however, following an off-the-record bench conference, the prosecutor rephrased her question, and Hollowell testified without objection that Griffin had a good reputation for having a character for truthfulness. The final two witnesses, Geri Holliman and Edward Wallington, offered similar testimony without any objection from Griffin. Thus, during the relevant testimony of these six witnesses, Griffin made only two objections to the form of the prosecutor's question or the witness's answer. She never objected that testimony about Loftis's reputation for having a truthful character was altogether improper and inadmissible.

         ¶26. Our Supreme Court has held that "an objection on one or more specific grounds constitutes a waiver of all other grounds." Smith v. State, 986 So.2d 290, 295 (¶13) (Miss. 2008) (quotation marks omitted). "[A]n objection cannot be enlarged in the reviewing court to embrace [issues] not complained of at trial." Id. "This Court cannot find that a trial judge committed reversible error on a matter not brought before him or her to consider." Id. In this case, Griffin did not object at all when the State first offered reputation-for-character-for-truthfulness testimony through Dodd, and her only later objections were to the form of a particular question or answer. Griffin never objected at trial "on the ground [she] raises on appeal"; therefore, she "waived any argument" that reputation-for-character-for-truthfulness testimony was inadmissible under Rule 608(a). Smith, 986 So.2d at 295 (¶14).

         III. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing full cross- examination and impeachment of Griffin or by precluding Griffin from disclosing her possible sentence to the jury.

         ¶27. On direct examination, in the course of explaining why she had jumped bond, Griffin specifically testified that in 2012 she had moved to Cullman, Alabama, with both of her "children, " including her younger son. Griffin told the jury that she moved to Cullman in part because "Bloomberg Business Week" had listed that city "as the number one place to raise children." In point of fact, Griffin did not move to Cullman with both of her children or her younger son. She put the younger son up for adoption in 2011, before she moved to Cullman. On cross-examination, the State attempted to impeach Griffin by questioning her about the fact of her younger son's adoption. Griffin objected on grounds of relevance and prejudice, but the trial judge overruled the objection. The trial judge found that Griffin had "opened the door to this line of questioning" through her testimony on direct. The trial judge also found, under Mississippi Rule of Evidence 403, that Griffin's "credibility" was of "paramount" importance to the case and that "any prejudicial effect [was] outweighed substantially by the probative value" of the evidence. The judge did caution the State "to be careful about going too far afield."

         ¶28. On appeal, Griffin argues that the trial judge erred by allowing the State to cross-examine her about the adoption. She contends that this line of questioning should have been prohibited under Rule 403. We disagree.

         ¶29. "Mississippi allows wide-open cross-examination of any matters affecting the credibility of the witness." Brown v. State, 690 So.2d 276, 292 (Miss. 1996) (quoting Tillis v. State, 661 So.2d 1139, 1149 (Miss. 1995)); accord Keller v. State, 138 So.3d 817, 840 (¶34) (Miss. 2014); M.R.E. 611(b). "[A] trial court's rulings on the extent of cross- examination will be reversed only when an abuse of discretion is shown." Byrom v. State, 863 So.2d 836, 862 (¶81) (Miss. 2003). Moreover, "'Rule 403's scope is narrow, ' as 'it is an extraordinary measure that should be used very sparingly.'" Owens v. Kelly, 191 So.3d 738, 745 (¶23) (Miss. Ct. App. 2015) (quoting United States v. Fields, 483 F.3d 313, 354 (5th Cir. 2007)). Rule 403 permits the exclusion of relevant evidence based on "unfair prejudice" only if the evidence's "probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of" unfair prejudice. M.R.E. 403 (emphasis added); see Owens, 191 So.3d at 745 (¶23).

         ¶30. In this case, the trial judge did not abuse his discretion. The State's cross-examination directly addressed a "matter[] affecting [Griffin's] credibility, " Brown, 690 So.2d at 292, as it revealed a clear lie in her testimony on direct. Griffin interjected the issue into the case through her self-serving-and at least partially false-testimony about her reasons for moving to Alabama. Griffin did not have to testify about moving to Alabama, but once she did, she opened the door to cross-examination about her truthfulness on that subject. Nor can we say that the trial judge abused his discretion in applying Rule 403. As the trial judge found, Griffin's "credibility" was a "paramount" issue at trial, and the probative value of this impeachment was not substantially outweighed by any danger of unfair prejudice. Griffin's argument on this issue is without merit.

         ¶31. Griffin also argues that the trial judge abused his discretion by precluding her from testifying that she put her son up for adoption because she was facing a lengthy prison sentence if convicted. After the trial judge ruled that the State could cross-examine Griffin regarding the adoption, Griffin testified as follows:

Q. Ms. Griffin, isn't it true that in September of 2011 you gave up youryounger son for adoption?
A. I did due to the fact that I'm looking at 20 years if I'm convicted here, yes, ma'am. I did not want that child . . . becoming attached to me.

         The judge interrupted Griffin and instructed the jury to disregard this testimony because the jury would not decide Griffin's sentence and should not consider her sentence in rendering a verdict. The judge then excused the jury from the courtroom and admonished Griffin, outside the presence of the jury, not to testify about her potential sentence. On appeal, Griffin argues that this limitation on her testimony was error.

         ¶32. We disagree. As an initial matter, Griffin failed to preserve the issue for appellate review. After the jury was excused, Griffin's attorney did not argue that she should be allowed to testify about her potential sentence. In fact, when the trial judge correctly stated that the jury was "not even to know potential sentences, " Griffin's attorney stated, "I understand, Judge. I totally agree with you."

         ¶33. Moreover, procedural bar notwithstanding, the trial judge's ruling was correct. Griffin's potential sentence was not a proper consideration for the jury. See Marks v. State, 532 So.2d 976, 983-84 (Miss. 1988) ("[T]he jury should have no concern with the quantum of punishment to be imposed. . . . The question of punishment is categorically unrelated to [what] the verdict should be . . . ."); see also Roach v. State, 116 So.3d 126, 136 (¶32) (Miss. 2013) (Kitchens, J., dissenting) ("The severity or leniency of a defendant's possible sentence is purposely withheld from juries exactly because of its considerable potential to influence their verdicts."). The trial judge did not abuse his discretion in permitting full cross-examination on issues relevant to Griffin's credibility; nor did the trial judge abuse his discretion by cutting off Griffin's testimony about her potential sentence.

         IV. Griffin's challenges to the sufficiency and weight of the evidence are procedurally barred and without merit.

         ¶34. Griffin next argues that the State presented insufficient evidence to convict her of aggravated assault or, in the alternative, that she is entitled to a new trial because the jury's verdict is against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. As to both of these issues, Griffin advances only a very specific and narrow claim that the State failed to prove that Loftis suffered "serious bodily injury." Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-7(2)(a) (Rev. 2014). ¶35. "When this Court reviews the sufficiency of evidence supporting a guilty verdict, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State and decide if rational jurors could have found the State proved each element of the crime." Lenoir v. State, 222 So.3d 273, 279 (¶25) (Miss. 2017). "We are not required to decide-and in fact we must refrain from deciding-whether we think the State proved the elements. Rather, we must decide whether a reasonable juror could rationally say that the State did." Poole v. State, 46 So.3d 290, 293-94 (¶20) (Miss. 2010).

         ¶36. We review the trial judge's decision denying a new trial for an abuse of discretion. Little v. State, 233 So.3d 288, 292 (¶21) (Miss. 2017). "We do not reweigh evidence, " "assess the witnesses' credibility, " or "resolve conflicts between evidence." Id. at 289 (¶1). "Those decisions belong solely to the jury." Id. On appeal, we "view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and disturb the verdict only when it is so contrary to the overwhelming weight ...

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