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Cruse v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

August 14, 2018

ANDREW C. CRUSE, JR. A/K/A ANDREW CLINTON CRUSE, JR. A/K/A ANDREW CLINTON CRUSE A/K/A ANDREW C. CRUSE A/K/A ANDREW CRUSE A/K/A SPARKY A/K/A CLINT APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/26/2017

          HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. CHRISTOPHER LOUIS SCHMIDT TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: BENJAMIN ALLEN SUBER GEORGE T. HOLMES ERIN E. BRIGGS

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: KATY TAYLOR GERBER

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: JOEL SMITH

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

          WESTBROOKS, J.

         ¶1. Andrew Clinton Cruse Jr. was indicted as a violent habitual offender by the Harrison County Grand Jury for kidnapping, aggravated assault, forcible sexual intercourse, and sexual battery. After a jury trial, Cruse was found guilty of kidnapping, aggravated assault, and forcible sexual intercourse but was acquitted of sexual battery. Cruse was sentenced to life without parole in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) for each of the convictions, with the sentences to run concurrently. Cruse filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), or in the alternative, for a new trial, which the trial court denied. Cruse timely appeals. After review of the record, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. On February 23, 2015, Tina Ivy was spotted naked running from a nearby wooded area[1] to a Lowe's parking lot in Gulfport, Mississippi. Ivy was naked, her head was covered in blood, and her arms were bound behind her back with duct tape and zip ties. Witnesses at trial testified that Ivy stated that she had been held against her will in a tent and raped. Ivy also stated that Cruse tried to drug her, but she refused to swallow the pills. Ivy named her assailant as "Clint." However, the assailant was later identified as Andrew Clinton Cruse Jr., whose nickname is "Clint."

         ¶3. Sergeant Christopher Werner, a detective with the Gulfport Police Department, testified that he arrived at the campsite in the wooded area that Ivy had described and noticed two open tents. Sergeant Werner stated that he found paperwork with both Cruse's and Ivy's names inside one of the tents. Cruse was later arrested approximately one-half of a mile away from the campsite on an unrelated bench warrant. Ivy picked out Cruse's photo and identified him as her attacker, and Cruse was arrested for kidnapping, aggravated assault, forcible sexual intercourse, and sexual battery.

         ¶4. At trial, Cruse testified that he and Ivy had consensual sex, and bruises she sustained were the result of an altercation Ivy had with her boyfriend. However, Cruse admitted to slapping Ivy with an open hand and tying her up with duct tape during their sexual encounter. However, Cruse stated that Ivy asked to be bound while they engaged in sexual intercourse, and that his girlfriend was also with them during their sexual encounter.

         ¶5. The jury did not find Cruse's testimony persuasive as to three of the four indicted offenses, and Cruse was convicted of kidnapping, aggravated assault, and forcible sexual intercourse. After the denial of Cruse's JNOV motion, or in the alternative, a new trial, Cruse timely appeals.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶6. "A denial of a judgment notwithstanding the verdict is subject to de novo review on appeal." Kirk v. State, 160 So.3d 685, 695 (¶24) (Miss. 2015). "[The reviewing] Court will affirm the denial of a motion for [a] JNOV if there is substantial evidence to support the verdict." Id. at (¶25).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Denial of Davis's Motion to Withdraw

         ¶7. Cruse asserts that the trial court erred in refusing to allow his attorney, James "Jim" Davis, ...


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