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Phillips v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 18, 2019

DONALD HAYDEN PHILLIPS APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/26/2017

          GRENADA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JOSEPH H. LOPER JR., TRIAL JUDGE.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: LUTHER PUTNAM CRULL JR.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, KAYLYN HAVRILLA MCCLINTON DISTRICT

          ATTORNEY: DOUG EVANS

          BEFORE BARNES, C.J., TINDELL AND McCARTY, JJ.

          McCARTY, J.

         ¶1. Donald Hayden Phillips appeals his convictions for assault, kidnapping, and sexual battery. The issues presented are: (1) whether surrogate reviewer testimony violated Phillips' rights under the Confrontation Clause; (2) whether Phillips' exhibits should have been admitted into evidence; (3) whether the trial court abused its discretion by sentencing Phillips to serve a total of thirty-five years in the State penitentiary, which resulted in a violation of his constitutional rights; (4) whether the trial court erred in denying Phillips' post-trial motions; and (5) whether the prejudicial effect of cumulative errors warranted a new trial. Finding no reversible error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Before dawn one spring day, Jane Doe[1] was awoken by the sound of someone at her front door. When she went outside, she initially did not see anyone, but as she turned to go back in, she saw Donald Hayden Phillips backed up against her trailer. Once Jane spotted him, Phillips gave her a "crazy look" and forced his way inside.

         ¶3. Jane told Phillips to leave and attempted to stop him from advancing further into her home. Phillips responded by stabbing Jane in the neck with a pocketknife. Jane fled to the front door in an attempt to escape, but Phillips stabbed her in the back before she could reach the door. Jane then lost consciousness.

         ¶4. After she regained consciousness, Jane made another escape attempt-this time through the back door. Phillips again caught her before she could escape. He threw Jane on the couch, and she lost consciousness for a second time. When Jane awoke, Phillips had either already removed her pants or was in the process of doing so. Phillips then ripped off her underwear and repeatedly attempted to rape her over the next several hours. During this time Phillips used his fingers to digitally penetrate Jane's vagina and anus "aggressively [and] multiple times." He also threatened to kill Jane if she tried to escape again.

         ¶5. Several hours into the attack, Jane's sister and her sister's boyfriend arrived at the trailer. Upon their arrival, Phillips forced Jane into the bathroom. While brandishing a knife, Phillips pressed himself against the bathroom door, and threatened to kill Jane if she did not get rid of them. During this time, Jane's neighbor and Jane's ex-boyfriend also arrived at the trailer. When Jane's ex-boyfriend told her he was leaving she shouted out, "[P]lease, don't go!" Jane's ex-boyfriend then broke down the bathroom door-simultaneously freeing Jane and trapping Phillips inside. Jane escaped to her back deck and from there was transported to the hospital.

         ¶6. The emergency-room nurse testified that Jane had lost a lot of blood from multiple potentially life-threatening wounds. Jane was stabbed a total of seventeen times in her neck, hand, back, forearm, and both breasts. A rape kit was performed, multiple pieces of hair were collected, and swabs were taken from all over Jane's body.

         ¶7. Kathryn Rodgers was the analyst who tested the samples collected at the hospital. The swabs taken of Jane's vagina and anus tested positive for seminal fluid and spermatoza. DNA testing of the seminal fluid and spermatoza could not exclude Phillips as a potential contributor, and there was a 99.9% chance that the rest of the population could be excluded as a potential contributor.

         ¶8. At the time of trial, Rodgers was either on or nearing maternity leave. Because Rodgers was unavailable to testify at trial, the State filed a motion to substitute technical reviewer testimony. The State intended to call the technical reviewer on the case, George Schiro, to testify in Rodgers' place. In addition to being the technical reviewer on the case, Schiro was also a DNA analyst and director of the ...


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