RICHARD W. MORROW a/k/a RICHARD MORROW a/k/a RICHARD WARRINER MORROW
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
OF JUDGMENT: 03/02/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JAMES LAMAR ROBERTS, JR., JUDGE
COURT ATTORNEYS: KIMI D. KITCHENS JOSHUA S. WISE ROBERT S.
LAHER JOHN O. WINDSOR
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
W. DANIEL HINCHCLIFF GEORGE T. HOLMES
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
KAYLYN HAVRILLA McCLINTON
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: JOHN WEDDLE
Richard Morrow was convicted of fondling and sentenced as a
habitual offender to life in prison without parole.
Morrow's trial counsel did not file a direct appeal.
Nevertheless, the trial court allowed Morrow to proceed with
an out of time appeal. Morrow raises four assignments of
error: (1) whether the trial court erred in allowing
testimony and comments about DNA evidence; (2) whether the
victim's nonverbal responses were ambiguous and therefore
insufficient to support the verdict; (3) whether he received
ineffective assistance of counsel; and (4) whether cumulative
error requires reversal. Discerning no reversible error, we
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In July 2012, Morrow lived with his sister
Carlie in Corinth, Mississippi. Carlie's
daughter Laura and her grandson Ben had lived with Carlie
before Morrow moved in. Laura and Ben moved out and lived
with various friends and Laura's aunt, who lived a few
houses down the street from Carlie. Laura kept some of her
clothes at Carlie's home. Laura and Ben visited often.
On July 26, 2012, when Ben was three years old, Laura and Ben
went to Carlie's house so that Laura could gather some
clothes, and Morrow was there. Carlie was not present when
they arrived, but Laura and Ben waited for her to return
because she had agreed to babysit Ben while Laura went to
While Ben was in the living room watching television, Laura
was in her old room watching television and gathering
clothes. Ben was wearing only his underwear. Laura exited her
old room to get something to drink. She passed through the
living room, and she noticed that Ben was not there. She went
into the kitchen. When Laura walked into the kitchen, she saw
Ben standing on the table facing Morrow. Laura saw Morrow
pulling up Ben's underwear quickly, and she heard
Ben's underwear pop against his waist. Laura pretended as
if nothing was wrong, and Morrow began yelling at Ben to get
off the table.
Ben told Laura that he needed to use the bathroom, so she
took him into the bathroom. In the bathroom, Laura asked Ben
what he was doing on the table, and he responded that he did
not want to tell her because he was scared. Laura reassured
Ben that he was not in trouble, and he told her that
"Uncle Ricky had sucked his peepee." Laura then
examined Ben's penis and saw that it was wet with saliva.
Ben did not urinate while they were in the bathroom, and
Laura was sure that the moisture was not urine.
Laura gathered their personal items; she dressed Ben, and
they left to go to Laura's aunt's house. Laura called
Carlie crying. Laura told Carlie something bad had happened
and asked her to come get them. Carlie was near the house and
picked up Laura and Ben. Carlie asked Ben what had happened,
but he told her that he was scared and did not want to tell
her. Carlie reassured him, and Ben told her the same thing
that he had told Laura. Laura and Carlie went to Laura's
aunt's house and called law enforcement to report the
incident. They went to the Alcorn County Sheriff's
Department where Laura provided a statement. Ben was taken to
the hospital, and medical personnel swabbed his penis.
Ben, who was seven years old at the time of the trial,
testified after Laura. Ben testified that Morrow put his
mouth on his "middle spot," which he explained was
what he uses to go to the bathroom. Ben's account of the
incident corroborated Laura's testimony.
Reggie Anderson, a former criminal investigator with the
Alcorn County Sheriff's Department, testified that he
took Laura's statement regarding an alleged fondling.
Anderson sent Ben to the hospital for a sexual assault
examination kit to be performed. Anderson sent the sexual
assault kit to the Mississippi Crime Laboratory. Anderson
obtained permission from Morrow to take a DNA swab from him.
Anderson provided a DNA sample from Morrow to the crime lab,
but the crime lab misplaced the sample. Anderson obtained
permission again from Morrow to take another DNA sample from
him. Anderson submitted the second sample to the crime lab.
Anderson testified about the DNA results he had received from
the crime lab:
Q: What were the results?
A: It came back as a male contributor on the penile swab of
Q: Was that a male contributor to the evidence found on the
penis of [Ben]?
On cross-examination, Anderson testified that the report he
received did not identify Morrow as the male contributor. On
redirect, the prosecution again questioned Anderson about the
crime lab results:
Q: Did you state to the jury the results from the crime lab
was a male contributor?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Were there any other males accused in your investigation
of the ...