FROM CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT ORLEANS PARISH NO. 519-684,
SECTION "D" Honorable Frank A. Marullo, Judge
A. Cannizzaro, Jr. District Attorney J. Taylor Gray Assistant
District Attorney PARISH OF ORLEANS COUNSEL FOR
APPELLEE/STATE OF LOUISIANA.
Herrle-Castillo LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT COUNSEL FOR
composed of Judge Terri F. Love, Judge Madeleine M. Landrieu,
Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano
F. Love Judge.
Melvin Jones ("Mr. Jones") appeals his conviction
of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile in violation of La.
R.S. 14:80. Mr. Jones seeks reversal of his conviction
arguing that material portions of the record bearing on the
merits of his appeal are missing, he was unable to
cross-examine the individuals who performed the DNA testing,
and the trial court erred by admitting evidence of a 1998
allegation of aggravated rape. Although the record does not
contain a complete voir dire transcript, we find the omission
is not so material as to prevent a full review. We also find
the Confrontation Clause issue was not preserved for
appellate review, and the trial court did not abuse its
discretion by admitting evidence of the 1998 alleged
aggravated rape. Therefore, we affirm Mr. Jones'
conviction and sentence.
HISTORY AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
March 2014, Mr. Jones (a.k.a. Melvin Knight) was charged with
one count of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile. The
factual background resulting in Mr. Jones' conviction
victim S.H.  was born in 1984. When S.H. was young, she
suffered from depression after the death of her father and
was later diagnosed with mild mental retardation. In 2000,
S.H. was sixteen years old and lived in New Orleans with her
mother ("J.H.") and siblings. Testimony revealed
that S.H. would occasionally run away from home. S.H.
testified that on June 10, 2000, she ran away from home, but
she left a note for her mother indicating that she was going
to visit Sister Mitchell, a member of their church, at her
house. While S.H. did visit Sister Mitchell that day, she
proceeded to a friend's house. Along the way, S.H.
stopped to ask an unknown man for the time. S.H. testified
that the man she spoke with was Mr. Jones, who asked S.H. to
walk with him. Thirty minutes later, S.H. and Mr. Jones
arrived at Mr. Jones' house. Mr. Jones locked the front
door and forced S.H. onto the couch and proceeded to have sex
mother J.H. did not know her daughter ran away until she
called Sister Mitchell and learned that S.H. had not been
seen since she left Sister Mithcell's house. Concerned,
J.H. contacted the police. J.H. subsequently received a phone
call regarding S.H.'s whereabouts. The police then
escorted J.H. to the house where S.H. was located. J.H.
testified that she found her daughter S.H. disheveled,
distraught, crying, and disoriented.
S.H. told her mother and the police that nothing happened to
her because she was afraid of what Mr. Jones might do to her.
However, when she was transported to the hospital for
observation and examination, S.H. admitted to the nurse that
she recently had sexual intercourse. S.H. underwent a pelvic
examination, and her mouth and vaginal area were swabbed.
trial, S.H. testified that she could not remember whether she
had consensual sex with a man named Melvin Jones or Melvin
Knight. She also stated that at the time of the incident she
was not sexually active. On cross-examination, S.H. explained
that the reason she told the police she did not have sex was
because she feared Mr. Jones. However, she did ultimately
admit to her mother and the police she was raped but did not
know by whom.
original investigation in 2000 did not lead to any arrests.
However, the NOPD contracted with Reliagene Technologies to
process a backlog of rape kits, including the rape kit
performed on S.H. in June 2000, identified as NOPD Item
Number F19801-2000. Ms. Gina Pineda ("Ms. Pineda")
testified as an expert in the field of molecular biology and
DNA analysis. Under Ms. Pineda's supervision, Reliagene
processed and tested NOPD Item Number F19801-2000. The kit
contained two items for testing including the victim's
blood sample and a vaginal swab. Ms. Pineda testified that
she did not conduct the actual testing in this case, but
rather reviewed the testing protocol and interpreted the
results. From the results, Ms. Pineda concluded that NOPD
Item Number F19801-2000 presented DNA of the victim S.H. and
the DNA of a male donor.
defense's objection, the State sought to call as a
witness S.T., the victim of an alleged sexual assault that
occurred in 1998. The trial court allowed S.T. to testify.
S.T. testified that in 1998 she was fourteen or fifteen years
old and living in New Orleans. She related to the jury an
incident that occurred in July 1998 while walking home from a
friend's house. She stated that she was approached by a
man, who was wearing a Sears uniform and driving a white
Sears van. The man spoke to S.T. about helping her get a job.
He told her that he had a job application at home and would
give it to her if she would accompany him to his apartment.
apartment, S.T. remained in the front room while the man
entered the kitchen to retrieve the application. However, the
man returned with a butcher knife and ordered S.T. to
disrobe. She complied with his demand but begged him not to
hurt her. According to S.T., the man led her to a bedroom
where he raped her. S.T. testified that during the attack her
assailant had put the knife down and she attempted to grab
it. S.T. testified that she grabbed the knife by the blade
and her hand was sliced when her assailant pulled the knife
away from her. She stated that the attack lasted
approximately forty-five minutes, after which he gathered the
bloody sheets and they left his apartment. S.T.'s
attacker threw the sheets in a dumpster near his apartment
and drove S.T. around, asking if she was going to tell anyone
what happened. When she convinced him she would not tell
anyone, he released her. S.T. fled from the van and found her
friends, who transported her to the hospital where she
underwent a rape examination.
testified that she did not know the man who attacked her. In
2012, S.T. was contacted by a detective, who informed her
that an arrest was made in relation to her assault.
addition to processing the rape kit in S.H.'s case,
Reliagene also processed the rape kit in S.T.'s case,
identified as NOPD Item Number G10251-1998. Ms. Pineda
testified that the results from the sample matched the DNA of
S.T. and tested positive for the presence of seminal fluid of
a male donor, from which a profile was generated. Ms. Pineda
testified that a comparison of the test results from NOPD
Item Number F19801-2000 and NOPD Item Number G10251-1998
indicated that the sperm profiles in the two cases matched.
The evidence was then ...