Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Blake v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

October 4, 2018

CHARLES E. BLAKE a/k/a CHARLES BLAKE a/k/a CHARLES EDWARD BLAKE
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/02/2015

          COAHOMA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. KENNETH L. THOMAS JUDGE.

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: ROSHARWIN LEMOYNE WILLIAMS KIMBERLY DENICE McCRAY AZKI SHAH KEVIN BRIAN BASS.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF THE STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: HUNTER NOLAN AIKENS GEORGE T. HOLMES.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: ALICIA MARIE AINSWORTH.

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: BRENDA FAY MITCHELL.

          MAXWELL, JUSTICE.

         ¶1. Charles Blake was convicted of sexually battering a seven-year-old child during a family barbeque. He was sentenced to life in prison. On appeal, Blake argues the judge made several evidentiary errors that entitle him to a new trial. But after review, we find no errors, particularly none that warrant reversal. The evidence that Blake sexually penetrated Robert's[1] anus with his finger-or, as the young child put it, dug "in his butt"-was so overwhelming as to render any alleged evidentiary error harmless. We affirm.

         Background Facts and Procedural History

         I. Sexual Battery

         ¶2. Seven-year-old Robert lived with his mother and older sister at his grandmother's house. On Labor Day, his grandmother hosted a barbeque. Included in this family gathering were the grandmother's boyfriend and the boyfriend's brother, Charles Blake. Blake ingratiated himself with the other guests, buying alcohol for the grown-ups and taking the kids to the store to buy treats with the $5 each he gave them. According to Robert, Blake made a separate proposal to him, specifically offering the child an additional $100 to visit Blake at his house.

         ¶3. Robert's uncle, who was manning the grill, told his and his sister's kids to play inside, so the grown-ups could enjoy some adult conversation. While the kids were playing inside, Blake entered the home. Robert's cousins and sister were in the dining room, all sitting on a couch. At first, they did not notice Robert was not with them. But a bit later, his teenaged cousin looked into the adjacent living room and saw Blake in a chair with Robert standing in front of him. This same cousin wondered aloud what Blake was doing with Robert because she saw Blake "pulling [Robert] back and forth." When Robert's sister turned her attention to the living room, she too saw Blake physically moving Robert back and forth. From the strange look on Robert's face, she knew something was wrong.

         ¶4. The two girls jumped up and went toward Robert. He quietly whispered for his sister and cousin to "go get ma." His sister went straight to their mother, who was in her bedroom. She told her something was wrong with Robert. His mother called to him several times. Robert eventually emerged from the table. He was shaking and had tears in his eyes. Robert had a terrified look on his face-an expression his mother had never seen before. The young child told his mother and sister that Blake had been "in there digging in my butt."

         ¶5. Robert's mother testified she blacked out in shock by this news. Witnesses corroborated that she grabbed a bottle and charged toward Blake. On the witness stand, she readily admitted becoming enraged and attacking Blake. Blake ran out of the house. And Robert's mother called the police, who advised her to take Robert to the hospital.

         II. Investigation

         ¶6. Police Sergeant Norman Starks met the family at the hospital and interviewed the mother. Afterwards, he went to the grandmother's house to view the crime scene and gather a list of witnesses.

         ¶7. The next day, Blake and his brother came to the police station for questioning. Blake told him he had left his bag behind when he fled from Robert's enraged mother. And he asked for Sergeant Starks's help to get it back. Robert's uncle had the bag and agreed to drop it off at the police station. Before returning the bag to Blake, Sergeant Starks opened the bag and inventoried its contents in front of Blake and Blake's brother, apparently without any objection. On top of all items in the bag was a tube of "Warm Touch" warming gel lubricant. Sergeant Starks told Blake he would have to retain the tube as potential evidence. He photographed the rest of the items-including several latex gloves-and returned the bag to Blake.

         ¶8. The next month, Sergeant Starks took Robert to a forensic specialist trained in interviewing children. Robert told the interviewer how Blake had touched his buttocks. When she asked him to explain what he meant by "touched," Robert demonstrated to her how Blake's "finger wiggled inside his buttocks and his buttocks hurt."

         III. Trial

         ¶9. Blake was charged with sexually penetrating Robert, a child under the age of fourteen, by inserting his finger into Robert's anal opening, when Blake was more than twenty-four months older than Robert. See Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-95(1)(d) (Rev. 2014).

         ¶10. The Friday before trial, Blake moved for a continuance, arguing he needed more time to locate a potential witness-Dr. Jeffrey Ming, the emergency room physician who evaluated Robert that night. The trial court denied this motion. The court found Blake's counsel could not show any diligent efforts to locate Dr. Ming, though Blake had been under indictment for more than two years.

         ¶11. At trial, Sergeant Starks testified first. While he was testifying, the State introduced-over Blake's objection-the photographs of the contents of his bag and the tube of warming gel lubricant.

         ¶12. Robert's mother and sister also testified. Both were allowed, under the tender-years exception, to testify about Robert's statements immediately after the assault. See Miss. R. Evid. 803(25). The two repeated that Robert had said Blake was "digging in my butt." The forensic interviewer also testified about Robert's description of Blake's fingers wiggling in his butt. Robert's sister recounted seeing Blake physically manipulating Robert, back and forth. She recalled the strange look on Robert's face. And Robert's cousin corroborated that Blake, with his hand behind Robert's back, was pulling the child back and forth. Robert's other cousin testified that he was "certain" he saw Blake's hand inside Robert's pants.

         ¶13. The jury then heard from Robert himself. He recounted how Blake "put his hand in my butt." On cross-examination, when asked at what point he whispered to his cousin for help, Robert replied "when [Blake] was digging in my butt."

         ¶14. The defense called no witnesses. Robert's counsel attempted to recall Sergeant Starks to impeach Robert's mother. But the State objected. The trial judge sustained the objection.

         ¶15. Blake's counsel did introduce Robert's medical records from his emergency-room visit. But the trial court struck the emergency-room doctor's diagnosis-"alleged fondling"-because, in the court's view, the description of fondling "may be misleading or confusing to the jury."

         ¶16. The jury found Blake guilty of sexual battery. And the trial judge sentenced Blake, a habitual offender, to life without parole. See Miss Code Ann. § 97-3-101(3) (Rev. 2014); Miss. Code Ann. § 99-19-83 (Rev. 2015).

         IV. Issues on Appeal

         ¶17. After his post-judgment motions were denied, Blake appealed his conviction to this Court. Blake argues:

(1) The trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to present a complete defense by:
(a) denying his request to recall Sergeant Starks to impeach Robert's mother,
(b) denying his request to continue trial so he could locate the emergency room doctor, and
(c) redacting the doctor's diagnosis from Robert's medical records.
(2) The trial court erred by admitting tender-years testimony.
(3) The trial court erred by admitting into evidence the contents of Blake's bag.

         Discussion

         I.Blake's ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.