CHARLES E. BLAKE a/k/a CHARLES BLAKE a/k/a CHARLES EDWARD BLAKE
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
OF JUDGMENT: 04/02/2015
COAHOMA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. KENNETH L. THOMAS JUDGE.
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.
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 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
Facts and Procedural History
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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."
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).
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
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."
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).
Issues on Appeal
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
(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
(2) The trial court erred by admitting tender-years
(3) The trial court erred by admitting into evidence the
contents of Blake's bag.