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Craig v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 18, 2019

DONTREY LAMARK CRAIG APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/21/2018

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

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: GEORGE T. HOLMES

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: BARBARA WAKELAND BYRD

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: JOEL SMITH

          BEFORE J. WILSON, P.J., GREENLEE AND McCARTY, JJ.

          J. WILSON, P.J.

         ¶1. Following a jury trial, Dontrey Craig was convicted of kidnaping and sexual battery. The circuit court denied Craig's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or a new trial and sentenced him to consecutive terms of ten years and fifteen years in the custody of the Department of Corrections. On appeal, Craig argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions and that the jury's verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Craig's arguments are without merit. Therefore, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Craig and Sabina[1] participated in a religious marriage ceremony but never sought a state marriage license. They had two children together. They separated in January 2015, and Sabina moved to Biloxi without Craig in June 2015.

         ¶3. On July 18, 2015, Craig went to Sabina's apartment. Craig told Sabina that their children wanted to see her. However, Sabina knew that Craig did not have their children because she had received a phone call earlier that day informing her that the children were in the custody of the Department of Human Services. Sabina testified that she did not invite Craig into her apartment but he came inside anyway. Sabina called the police after Craig entered her apartment. Craig began to accuse Sabina of cheating on him and took away both of her cell phones. Craig left with Sabina's cell phones before the police arrived.

         ¶4. Sabina then left her apartment and went to see her pastor for Bible study. After Bible study, she bought a new cell phone and groceries and then returned to her apartment. Later that night, while outside her apartment, Sabina saw Craig, and Craig again entered her apartment. Sabina asked Craig to leave several times, but he began yelling at her and asking her what she told the police. She lied and told him that she had not said anything about him to the police. Craig became angrier and told her that if she "tried to act smart" he would choke her. Then he made her sit on the couch and demanded that she give him her new cell phone. She said that she did not have a phone because he had taken her phones. However, Craig had seen the box for her new phone in the kitchen, and Sabina eventually gave him her new phone. Craig began to throw Sabina against the wall, pull her hair, and twist her arm. During the assault, Craig repeatedly accused Sabina of cheating on him, and he ransacked her apartment looking for evidence that a man was living there.

         ¶5. Around this time, Sabina's neighbor, Melinda Mitchell, woke to the sounds of someone in distress. She could tell that it was a female's voice coming from Sabina's apartment. Mitchell "banged on the wall" in an attempt to get Sabina's attention. When he heard Mitchell beating on the wall, Craig immediately turned off all the lights in the apartment. Mitchell decided to call the police, and two officers arrived a few minutes later. Sabina saw flashlights outside and heard the officers knocking on her apartment door. Craig then made Sabina sit on the stairs in the apartment, and he covered her mouth and nose with his hands. Sabina testified that she could barely breathe and struggled to break free. When the officers continued knocking, Craig took Sabina upstairs and made her sit in the hallway. He held something to her neck and told her that if she made a noise he would kill her and "choke the blood out of her mouth."

         ¶6. When no one answered the door, the officers went to talk to Mitchell. Mitchell told them that Sabina's boyfriend had a white Monte Carlo. The officers were unable to locate the car in the parking lot. The officers told Mitchell to call them if she saw or heard any activity in the apartment. After the officers left, Mitchell went back to sleep, but later she woke to the sound of "a lot of moving around." She testified, "It sounded like moving furniture. So either they were moving furniture or it was a ...


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