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State v. Jones

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

April 11, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
JESSIE JONES Appellant

          Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 327254 Honorable John D. Mosley, Jr., Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT BY: Carey J. Ellis, III Counsel for Appellant

          JAMES E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney Counsel for Appellee

          HOLLY Y. MCGINNESS TOMMY J. JOHNSON Assistant District Attorneys

          Before GARRETT, STEPHENS, and MCCALLUM, JJ.

          STEPHENS, J.

         This criminal appeal arises from the First Judicial District Court, Caddo Parish, State of Louisiana. The defendant, Jessie Jones, was charged with one count of indecent behavior with a juvenile under the age of 13, in violation of La. R.S. 14:81(A)(1) and (H)(2). After a jury trial, Jones was found guilty as charged and sentenced to ten years at hard labor, with one year to be served without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. Jones's motions for new trial, post-verdict judgment of acquittal and reconsideration of sentence were denied. On appeal, Jones challenges his sentence, claiming it is excessive. For the following reasons, Jones's conviction is affirmed and his sentence is vacated and remanded for resentencing.

         FACTS

         The victim in this case is A.J. Jones's granddaughter, who was nine years old at the time of the offense. Jones was 65 years old at the time of the offense. Jones was charged by amended bill of information with indecent behavior with a juvenile under the age of 13, in violation of La. R.S. 14:81(A)(1) and (H)(2).

         Jones's trial commenced, wherein six witnesses testified, all called by the state. The victim's great aunt and Jones's sister, B.B., testified that A.J. often spent nights with her and Jones and went to church with them on Sundays. A.J. would sleep on the couch when she spent the night. On August 16, 2014, A.J. and her brother spent the night with B.B. and Jones, and the children slept on separate couches in the living room. B.B. testified that during the night, A.J. knocked on her bedroom door, woke her, and told her that her "PawPaw" (i.e., Jones) was trying to touch her. B.B. stated that A.J. was "shook up, " and B.B. was concerned. B.B. left the bedroom and asked Jones what happened, to which he only shrugged his shoulders with no verbal reply. A.J. slept with B.B. the rest of the night and went home to her mother the following day after church. B.B. did not tell A.J.'s mother about the incident.

         A.J. testified and stated that she was in seventh grade and her birthday is September 23, 2004. She identified B.B. as her "auntie, " but stated she calls her "Nana." A.J. recalled that in 2014 she would often go to B.B.'s house to visit on the weekends. She further recalled going to the Gingerbread House[1] in August of 2014 and talking with a lady there and that the conversation was recorded. A.J. confirmed that she had watched the recording of the interview. The interview was played for the jury with no objection. The videotape was admitted into evidence after A.J. verified the authenticity of the recording and identified Jones in court. The defense did not cross-examine A.J.

         A.J.'s mother, S.J., testified and corroborated that A.J. often spent the night at B.B's house. According to S.J., when A.J. came home after church on August 17, 2014, she told her that "PawPaw touched my, you know, tee-tee [tu-tu]." S.J. related that A.J. referred to her vagina as her "tu-tu." S.J. was present, but in another room, during the Gingerbread House interview.

         Jennifer Flippo, a forensic interviewer for the Gingerbread House, testified regarding her interview with A.J. on August 29, 2014. Flippo recounted her conversation with A.J., stating that A.J. said that she was asleep on the couch at B.B.'s house when she felt something that woke her up, and she swatted at a hand that was touching her. A. J. related to Flippo that when she looked around, Jones was hiding behind the couch. A.J. told Flippo that she was wearing a dress and that Jones had touched her "tu-tu, " on and inside her underwear. Since it was clear from A.J.'s reference to her underwear, Flippo did not use the anatomical drawings to have A.J. identify the body part that Jones touched. Flippo's notes taken during the interview with A.J. were admitted into evidence as Exhibit S-2.

         Shawna Thomas testified that Jones, whom she identified in court, had dated her mother about 30 years prior, when she was seven to nine years old. Shawna testified that once during that time, while the family was watching a movie, Jones called her into the dark kitchen and made her perform oral sex on him. Shawna further described instances where Jones would have her and her half-sister lie on a pallet on the floor, with Shawna in the middle, and he would rub his penis between her legs. She could not recall how many times this happened but stated that it happened "quite often, " when her mother would go to work. Shawna testified that she did not tell anyone initially because Jones told her that he would kill her mother if she did. Eventually, when Shawna was 12 years old, she told her counselor at school but ...


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