Mississippi Court of Appeals denies State’s appeal in Rawlings case

Published 7:00 am Friday, August 5, 2016

From Staff Reports
Picayune Item

On July 19, the Mississippi Court of Appeals found the Pearl River County Circuit Court’s granting of a judgment notwithstanding the verdict to Brandon Rawlings was proper, affirming the court’s decision.
On April 8, 2014, a jury found Rawlings guilty of “fondling a 72-year-old patient for the purpose of gratifying his lust,” previous coverage states.
According to previous coverage, Rawlings was employed at Magnolia Personal Care Home in Picayune as a direct care worker in 2010.
According to an appeal filed by the Office of the Attorney General on January 28, 2015, the alleged incidents occurred on June 13, 2010 and July 18, 2010, leading to an investigation and subsequent indictment. At the time, Rawlings was charged with sexual battery and fondling a vulnerable person. The jury found him not guilty of sexual battery, but guilty of the previously mentioned second charge the appeal states.
Rawlings was sentenced in April 2014 to serve a maximum of 15 years with the Mississippi Department of Corrections, previous coverage states.
After sentencing, Rawlings filed for a JNOV or a new trial. The court initially denied the JNOV and granted the motion for a new trial citing “a lack of evidence to serve as the basis of a conviction,” the appeal states.
According to the appeal, Rawlings entered a motion to dismiss the remaining charge to which the court then reconsidered and granted Rawlings’ motion for JNOV.
In the appeal, the State argued that the court’s granting of a JNOV was improper.
During the trial, the State of Mississippi introduced a statement from Rawlings “acknowledging that physical contact was made with the patient’s genitalia,” the appeal states.
During the trial, the “voluntariness” of that statement was called into question, the appeal states.
Also during the trial, testimony from an aide at the facility was submitted as evidence, the appeal stated. In that testimony, the aide stated she found Rawlings and the patient in the same room, the appeal states.
The aide testified she “did not see a sexual act,” the appeal states.
Before a new trial was granted, the trial court released an order dismissing the remaining charge and granting the JNOV, the appeal states.
According to appeal documents, “the evidence at the prior trial did not add up to the basis for a conviction on that charge and the State has not disclosed any additional information by which it can prove an essential element beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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