LORI GRIFFIN A/K/A LORI ANN GRIFFIN A/K/A LORI A. GRIFFIN A/K/A LORI ANN SEARCY APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 03/15/2013
LOWNDES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JAMES T. KITCHENS JR. JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
JUSTIN TAYLOR COOK
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
BARBARA WAKELAND BYRD
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: FORREST ALLGOOD
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
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
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.
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."
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.
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. 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."
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
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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)).
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,
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
This Court has jurisdiction to consider Griffin's
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."
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).
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. 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. 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.
Griffin waived any objection to testimony about
Loftis's reputation for having a
character for truthfulness.
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.
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).
"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).
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.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.
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
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.
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
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.
"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).
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
Griffin's challenges to the sufficiency and
weight of the evidence are procedurally
barred and without merit.
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).
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 ...