Appeals court upholds verdict for Lewis
By John Howll
The Mississippi Court of Appeals has affirmed Judge Smith Murphey’s denial of a motion from man convicted for statutory rape who sought a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV).
Larry Lewis was found guilty in August, 2016, for statutory rape of a children over 14 but under 16 years of age, according to the mandate issued by the Court of Appeals on November 28. He was also adjudicated an habitual offender and sentenced to serve life in prison.
Following the conviction, Lewis filed an appeal, claiming that the evidence was insufficient. “Lewis asserts that there was no direct evidence to link him to the crime of statutory rape,” Appeals Court Justice Latrice Westbrooks writes in the mandate. However, “this court has previously held that witness testimony alone is sufficient to secure a conviction.”
The ruling reviews the chronology of Lewis’ three-year sexual history with a female victim who was age 13 at the time intimacy began. Lewis was over age 50.
Judge Westbrooks cites trial testimony from family members, an expert in the field of child abuse and forensic interviewing who testified during the trial, and a nurse at a rape crisis center when the victim was examined in the third year of the intimate relationship.
“Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, we find there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find Lewis guilty on both counts of statutory rape,” Westbrooks continues.