Rutland v. State


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Docket Number: 2008-KA-01544-COA
Linked Case(s): 2008-KA-01544-COA ; 2008-CT-01544-SCT ; 2008-CT-01544-SCT ; 2008-CT-01544-SCT

Court of Appeals: Opinion Link
Opinion Date: 02-16-2010
Opinion Author: Lee, P.J.
Holding: Affirmed

Additional Case Information: Topic: Felonious child abuse - Sufficiency of evidence - Juror misconduct
Judge(s) Concurring: King, C.J., Myers, P.J., Irving, Griffis, Barnes, Ishee, Roberts and Maxwell, JJ.
Concur in Part, Concur in Result 1: Carlton, J., without separate written opinion.
Procedural History: Jury Trial
Nature of the Case: CRIMINAL - FELONY

Trial Court: Date of Trial Judgment: 08-24-2007
Appealed from: Franklin County Circuit Court
Judge: Forrest Johnson
Disposition: CONVICTED OF FELONIOUS CHILD ABUSE AND SENTENCED TO TWENTY YEARS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, WITH TEN YEARS SUSPENDED AND TEN YEARS TO SERVE
District Attorney: Ronnie Lee Harper

  Party Name: Attorney Name:   Brief(s) Available:
Appellant: LONI MARIE RUTLAND
PHILLIP BROADHEAD, LESLIE S. LEE
 
  • Brief

  • Appellee: STATE OF MISSISSIPPI OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL: JEFFREY A. KLINGFUSS  
  • Brief

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    Topic: Felonious child abuse - Sufficiency of evidence - Juror misconduct

    Summary of the Facts: Loni Rutland was convicted of felonious child abuse and was sentenced to twenty years, with ten years suspended and ten years to serve. She appeals.

    Summary of Opinion Analysis: Issue 1: Sufficiency of evidence Rutland argues that the State failed to introduce sufficient evidence at trial to establish that she intentionally abused her daughter. Since no direct evidence of child abuse was presented, the State based its case on circumstantial evidence from the child’s treating physicians and two social workers. Considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, the evidence presented was sufficient to show, to the exclusion of every other reasonable hypothesis, that Rutland’s actions resulted in her daughter’s leg injuries. Both doctors testified that the possible scenarios given by Rutland for the injuries were not plausible, and Rutland, who maintained that her daughter was constantly under her supervision, offered no other plausible explanation for the injuries. Issue 2: Juror misconduct In a motion, Rutland alleged that it had come to her attention after trial that a juror had looked up the words “neglect” and “abuse” in the dictionary at the conclusion of the first day of trial. The juror shared the definitions with the rest of the jury the following day. After the jurors heard the definitions, they determined that “neglect” and “abuse” had the same meaning. Rutland argues that a new trial should be granted because the jury failed to follow the trial court’s instruction to rely only on the instructions of law already given. When a jury is presented with an extraneous influence, the party seeking the relief must show prejudice. Here, Rutland has not shown that she was prejudiced by the jury hearing the definitions of the two words.


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