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Giles v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 25, 2019

CALVIN GILES APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/29/2018

          COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: COAHOMA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. CHARLES E. WEBSTER

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

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: LISA L. BLOUNT

          BEFORE BARNES, C.J., McDONALD AND C. WILSON, JJ.

          MCDONALD, J.

         ¶1. The Coahoma County Circuit Court found Calvin Giles guilty of fondling on January 25, 2018, and sentenced him to serve twelve years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with eight years to serve and four years on supervised probation. He appeals his conviction on two grounds: the erroneous admission of prior bad-acts evidence and procedural errors in the selection of his jury. After reviewing the record and relevant law, we affirm.

         FACTS

         ¶2. In July 2015, fifty-six year old Calvin Giles, also known as "Rev," lived down the street from eight-year-old "Mia"[1] and her mother, "Sandra." Giles sold candy, chips, sodas and cigarettes out of his home, and Mia had often purchased items from him. On July 18, 2015, Mia went to Giles's house with a friend of hers, "Gail," to buy some snacks. While there, Giles kissed Mia, touched her private parts, and exposed his penis to her. She told him not to do that and left. Later that evening when Sandra told Mia to take a bath, Mia told her mother what Giles had done. Sandra immediately called Mia's father "Mike" who lived nearby. When Mike arrived, Mia told him that the man down the street who sells candy had touched her between her legs on her private area and "pulled himself out" (exposed himself). Mike and Sandra went to Giles's home. Although he was there, Giles did not answer the door when they knocked and called to him.

         ¶3. Sandra and Mike then called the Clarksdale Police Department. Officer Jacob Braxton responded, and Mia's parents reported that Mia had been touched inappropriately by Giles. Per department protocol, Braxton notified Investigator Nicholas Turner who met with Sandra and Mike two days later. He told them that he would schedule Mia for a forensic interview with Meredith Rawl of the Family Crisis Services Center of Northwest Mississippi in Oxford. This interview was conducted on August 12, 2015.

         ¶4. Ms. Rawl, an experienced forensic interviewer, [2] testified at trial about the interview. She explained what forensic interviewing was and how she elicits information from children in a non-leading or suggestive way. She said Mia told her the following:

She disclosed that she asked him for a quarter, and he told her to hug him and then kissed her jaw with his mouth and touched all over her body. She disclosed that his hand touched her buttocks and vaginal area on top of her clothing. She reported that she told him to stop, and he said, "Shhh." Additional[ly], she reported that on more than one occasion he showed her his penis . . . and stated that he was touching his penis when he showed it to her. She stated that the first time he showed her his penis she was seven and the last time she was eight.

         Ms. Rawl had previously testified in this same way at the pre-trial Rule 803 certification hearing. At that time, the court noted that the last portion of this testimony may not be admissible and instructed the State to caution its witnesses and have them testify only to the events of the day in question. At trial, however, Rawl testified exactly as she had during the pre-trial hearing. No objection was made and her questioning continued without interruption.

         ¶5. Rawl also testified that she assesses a child to determine if their actions are consistent with having been abused. Rawl said:

A. So during the interview, I'm assessing the child's-their age and their abilities to provide information. I'm looking for the consistency in their statements, peripheral information, sensory information, who was involved, if they're able to provide that kind of information to me during the interview, and also give me spontaneous information, clarify and correct me if needed, then my findings are consistent with that of a child who's been sexually abused.
Q. How often do you find that a child, through your interviewing process, has provided information consistent with that of a child that's been sexually abused?
A. It's actually less than 50 percent of the cases that I have.

         In this case, Rawl concluded that, in her opinion, Mia exhibited signs consistent with a child who was sexually abused. The defense objection to this opinion testimony was overruled.

         ¶6. Mia also testified at the trial, saying that on that day she had asked Giles for a quarter to buy an ice cup and Giles asked her for a hug. Giles then touched her on her "coo coo"- her vagina-and on her booty. Mia's mother and father testified as noted above. Other witnesses for the prosecution included law enforcement officers.

         ¶7. Giles also testified, saying that Mia had come to his house begging for candy and that when he refused, she left. He emphatically denied ever touching or kissing Mia. He also testified that Mia has come to buy things from him since this incident.

         ¶8. Based on this testimony, the jury convicted Giles. After trial, he filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, objecting to Rawl's testimony that in her opinion Mia conducted herself in a manner of a person who had been sexually molested. Giles also challenged the sufficiency of the evidence. The court denied this motion.

         ¶9. On appeal, Giles raises only two issues. Giles argues that Rawl's testimony that Mia had reported Giles exposing himself to her on prior occasions was evidence of prior bad acts that should not have been admitted. He also challenged the method by which the judge chose alternate jurors. Giles says that both errors were prejudicial to him and denied him a fair trial.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶10. "Our well-established standard of review for the trial court's admission or suppression of evidence, including expert testimony, is abuse of discretion." Bradley v. Diamondhead Country Club & Prop. Owners Ass'n Inc., No. 2017-CA-01389-COA, 2019 WL 1915370, at *1 (¶6) (Miss. Ct. App. Apr. 30, 2019) (citing Tunica County v. Matthews, 926 So.2d 209, 212-13 (¶5) (Miss. 2006)). "We give great deference to the discretion of the trial judge." Id. "Unless we conclude that the discretion was arbitrary and clearly erroneous, amounting to an abuse of discretion, that decision will stand." Id. We review the circuit court's decisions in empaneling a jury and substituting alternate jurors for abuse of discretion. Shan ...


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