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Robinson v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 15, 2018

QUENDARIUS BERJUAN ROBINSON A/K/A QUENDARIUS ROBINSON A/K/A QUENDARIUS B. ROBINSON A/K/A QUENDARIUS BREJUAN ROBINSON APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/03/2016

          PANOLA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT, HON. SMITH MURPHEY TRIAL JUDGE.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: GEORGE T. HOLMES

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: JOSEPH SCOTT HEMLEBEN

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: JOHN W. CHAMPION

          BEFORE IRVING, P.J., BARNES AND WILSON, JJ.

          BARNES, J.

         ¶1. After a jury trial in Panola County Circuit Court, Quendarius Robinson was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. For the murder convictions, he was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). For the conviction of possession of a firearm, he was sentenced to ten years to run consecutively to his life sentences. He filed a post-trial motion, which the trial court denied.

         ¶2. On appeal, Robinson asserts only one issue - whether the trial court committed reversible error by admitting certain hearsay evidence at trial, specifically statements made by his minor son during a forensic interview, the trial testimony by the interviewer, and the video recording of the forensic interview. We find that while the trial judge failed to make an on-the-record finding that the hearsay evidence was "more probative on the point for which it [was] offered" than other evidence under Mississippi Rule of Evidence 803(24), [1]such failure constituted harmless error. We affirm Robinson's convictions and sentences.

         STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶3. Robinson had an "off and on" relationship with the mother of his child, Cearea Jackson. Jackson lived in Como, Mississippi, with her two sons - four-year-old Quendarius Robinson Jr. (Junior) and two-month old Quendez Robinson [2]- and her grandmother, Emma.

         ¶4. On the evening of November 27, 2015, Junior ran to the house of his next-door neighbor, Sherry Boyce, "in a state of shock" and "hysterical." Junior told Boyce that Robinson had shot his mother and Emma. Law enforcement and emergency medical services responded to find Jackson and Emma dead from gunshot wounds. Police discovered that Jackson's vehicle, a 2007 Nissan Altima, was missing and issued a BOLO ("be on the lookout") for Robinson as a person of interest. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (MBI) was called to assist with the investigation. On November 30, the MBI located Robinson and the Nissan Altima in Batesville, Mississippi, and Robinson was taken into custody. Forensic testing revealed that a swab of blood found in the Altima was consistent with Robinson's DNA. Particles indicative of gunshot residue were also detected on the car's steering wheel and on the sleeve of a black hooded jacket found in the car. On April 20, 2016, Robinson was indicted of Count I, murder in the first degree for the murder of Emma; Count II, murder in the first degree for the murder of Jackson; and Count III, possession of a firearm by a felon.

         ¶5. A jury trial was held on October 31-November 3, 2016. Prior to jury selection, the State moved to admit a video recording containing a forensic interview of Junior taken two days after the murders. Tina Roberson, a forensic interviewer employed by Healing Hearts Child Advocacy Center, conducted the interview. The defense argued this evidence would be cumulative of other testimony and did not "fall under any of the other exceptions to hearsay." The State responded that the interview went "into more detail as to what happened inside" (i.e., "what happened inside the home as to what room they were in, what color the gun was, where [Robinson] had the gun.") Therefore, it argued that this was the "best evidence that could be offered by the State." The trial judge held the motion in abeyance until he had an opportunity to view the video.

         ¶6. Prior to opening statements, the trial judge viewed the recording and granted the State's motion to admit the evidence, noting that the State intended to introduce the video during Roberson's testimony and after Junior had testified. The trial judge also observed that the interview techniques "illustrate[d] to the [c]ourt the requisite trustworthiness necessary for this to be properly admissible, that being one of the factors to come within the requirements of . . . Mississippi Rule of Evidence 803(24)." He found that the defense had notice and the evidence was "material." He concluded that the video's "probative value [was] certainly ...


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