Beasley v. State


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Docket Number: 2009-KA-00650-COA
Linked Case(s): 2009-KA-00650-COA

Court of Appeals: Opinion Link
Opinion Date: 12-14-2010
Opinion Author: Maxwell, J.
Holding: Affirmed.

Additional Case Information: Topic: Touching child for lustful purposes & Sexual battery - Post-Miranda silence - Conduct of juror - Sufficiency of evidence
Judge(s) Concurring: King, C.J., Lee and Myers, P.JJ., Irving, Griffis, Barnes, Ishee, Roberts and Carlton, JJ.
Procedural History: Jury Trial
Nature of the Case: CRIMINAL - FELONY

Trial Court: Date of Trial Judgment: 07-30-2008
Appealed from: Jackson County Circuit Court
Judge: Kathy King Jackson
Disposition: CONVICTED OF COUNT I, TOUCHING A CHILD FOR LUSTFUL PURPOSES, AND SENTENCED TO TEN YEARS; AND COUNT II, SEXUAL BATTERY, AND SENTENCED TO TWENTY-FIVE YEARS, WITH THE SENTENCES TO RUN CONSECUTIVELY IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, AND TO PAY A $5,000 FINE ON EACH COUNT FOR A TOTAL OF $10,000
District Attorney: ANTHONY N. LAWRENCE III
Case Number: 2006-10,926(2)

  Party Name: Attorney Name:  
Appellant: J. Irvin Beasley
PHILLIP BROADHEAD, LESLIE S. LEE
 

Appellee: State of Mississippi OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL: LAURA HOGAN TEDDER  

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Topic: Touching child for lustful purposes & Sexual battery - Post-Miranda silence - Conduct of juror - Sufficiency of evidence

Summary of the Facts: Irvin Beasley was convicted of touching a child for lustful purposes and sexual battery and was sentenced to ten years on the fondling charge and twenty-five years on the sexual-battery charge. He appeals.

Summary of Opinion Analysis: Issue 1: Post-Miranda silence Beasley argues the circuit court erred in denying his requests for a mistrial after the State impermissibly commented on his post-Miranda silence. The complained of comments, which occurred first during the State’s opening statement and later during an officer’s testimony, referred to Beasley’s initial refusal to speak to law enforcement before he decided to provide an inculpatory statement admitting he fondled the victim. Mississippi courts have not specifically addressed whether a prosecutor or government agent’s comments about a suspect’s initial post-Miranda refusal to speak amount to due process violations where the defendant ultimately gives an inculpatory statement. However, federal courts have held that certain “atypical” situations permit the admission of such evidence depending on either: the context of the refusal or whether the voluntariness of a later statement is contested. In considering the context of the State’s comments here, the prosecutor’s statement and the officer’s testimony about Beasley’s prior refusal to speak was simply a recitation of the facts concerning a preceding interview. Given the officer’s testimony about Beasley’s later confession, Beasley was not prejudiced by comments about his earlier refusal to speak. Though Beasley does not raise the admission of his inculpatory statement as error on appeal, his defense at trial was partially based on alleged threats and coercion surrounding his statement to police. Thus, he placed the voluntariness of his inculpatory statement at issue. Because initially exercising the right to remain silent may refute the inference that a later statement was involuntary, the circuit court did not err in refusing to grant Beasley’s requests for a mistrial. Issue 2: Conduct of juror Beasley argues that the conduct of a member of the jury panel engendered bias and prejudice against him from the outset of the trial. During voir dire, the trial judge informed the jury panel that Beasley was charged with fondling and sexual battery of a child. The judge asked panel members if, knowing the nature of the case, they could be fair and impartial. Juror 28 responded that she could not. At some point, she allegedly became emotional and started crying. The judge later struck Juror 28 for cause. Beasley argues that the judge should have immediately ordered Juror 28 to exit the courtroom. He also argues that following the alleged display, the judge should have given a curative instruction to limit the effect of Juror 28’s actions. Beasley also argues the judge should have specifically inquired into the ability of the potential jurors to disregard her alleged disruption and should have granted his motion to strike the jury panel. To obtain reversal based on a trial court’s refusal to quash a jury panel or grant a mistrial, the defendant must show prejudice. The trial court struck panel members who stated they could not be fair and impartial. It also directly questioned those who remained on the panel about their ability to be fair and impartial. No juror indicated any prejudice or bias. Because Beasley fails to show any resulting prejudice, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to strike the venire or grant a mistrial. Issue 3: Sufficiency of evidence Beasley argues his sexual-battery conviction is not supported by sufficient evidence or the weight of the evidence. The only witness to testify directly regarding sexual penetration was the victim. Beasley asserts that the victim’s “vague,” “inconclusive,” and “uncorroborated” testimony is inadequate to support a guilty verdict on the sexual-battery charge. But even uncorroborated testimony of a sex-crime victim is legally sufficient to support a conviction. The victim’s illustrations and related testimony were neither vague nor inconclusive. When considered in the light most favorable to the State and in concert with the victim’s testimony that Beasley had shown him a film of “grown up” men doing the “same thing” that Beasley did to him, the evidence quite sufficient to sustain a conviction based on fellatio-based sexual battery.


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