OF JUDGMENT: 01/29/2018
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
BARNES, C.J., McDONALD AND C. WILSON, JJ.
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.
In July 2015, fifty-six year old Calvin Giles, also known as
"Rev," lived down the street from eight-year-old
"Mia" 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
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.
Ms. Rawl, an experienced forensic interviewer,  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.
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.
Rawl also testified that she assesses a child to determine if
their actions are consistent with having been abused. Rawl
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
"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.