State v. Boyd

Decision Date14 February 2023
Docket NumberSC99625
PartiesSTATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent, v. CLINTON M. BOYD, Appellant.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF GREENE COUNTY The Honorable David Jones, Judge

W Brent Powell, Judge

Clinton Boyd appeals his judgment of conviction after a jury found him guilty of two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy three counts of first-degree child molestation, and one count of enticement of a child. In his appeal, Boyd contends the circuit court erred in failing to sever one of the six counts from the trial and challenges the sufficiency of evidence supporting the jury's finding of guilt for enticement of a child. This Court finds the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to sever the count and sufficient evidence supported a reasonable jury finding Boyd committed enticement. Boyd further argues the circuit court plainly erred in failing to sua sponte declare a mistrial based on statements the State made during closing arguments and testimony elicited during Boyd's cross-examination. This Court finds the circuit court committed no error affecting Boyd's substantial rights in failing to declare a mistrial based on the State's closing argument or testimony elicited during Boyd's cross-examination. This Court affirms.

Factual Background and Procedural History

Boyd has a criminal history relevant to the issues raised in this appeal. In 2002, he committed statutory rape against two sisters who were 14 and 15 at the time. Boyd was friends with the sisters' family and occasionally drove the sisters places. He took each girl to buy a dress and then had sexual intercourse with each of them. These assaults were reported after the younger sister became pregnant with Boyd's child. In July 2004, Boyd pleaded guilty to two charges of statutory rape and was placed on probation. Then, in December 2004, Boyd pleaded guilty to third-degree domestic assault. His probation was subsequently revoked, and he served two and a half years in prison.

The criminal convictions in the underlying appeal arise out of Boyd's conduct with three female children, D.D., Q.M and H.M, ranging from ages 5 to13.

D.D. was born in late 2003 and is Boyd's biological daughter. Boyd occasionally took care of D.D. after he was released from prison in 2007. In 2010, when she was 7 years old, D.D. disclosed that Boyd had "touched her spot with his hand" and indicated on a diagram that Boyd had touched her vagina. When interviewed by police, Boyd denied touching D.D. inappropriately and explained he was attracted to girls who had been through puberty.

Q.M. and H.M. are sisters. The girls' mother, L.M., was friends with Boyd and moved her family to Springfield, Missouri, where Boyd resided in 2018 at Boyd's suggestion. At the time, Q.M. and H.M. were 12 and 10 years old, respectively. Boyd began spending time at L.M.'s home daily after L.M.'s ex-boyfriend moved out. L.M. worked nights, and Boyd sometimes watched Q.M. and H.M. while L.M. worked.

On one occasion, Boyd entered Q.M.'s bedroom while she was napping and began rubbing her thigh. Q.M. woke up while Boyd was touching her but pretended she was still asleep. After Q.M. woke up, Boyd put his hand in her pants and touched her vagina. On another occasion when Q.M. and Boyd were home alone, he came into the bathroom while Q.M. was in the shower, reached through the shower curtain, and squeezed Q.M.'s breasts and her vagina. Boyd told Q.M. not to tell her mother or he would hurt her.

Despite Boyd's warning, Q.M. disclosed these offenses to L.M. and was later interviewed at the Children's Advocacy Center (CAC). Q.M. said she had known Boyd since she was a baby and he had been doing things to her as long as she could remember. Q.M. said she was 13 years old when she last saw him. Q.M. was very reluctant to talk about Boyd touching her, but she eventually said he touched her when she was sleeping and while she was in the shower. Q.M. identified on a diagram that Boyd had "grop[ed]" her chest, vagina, and thigh, with his hands both on top of and under her clothes. Q.M. expressed concern about Boyd's daughter, stating that Boyd's daughter was like a little sister to her and she was worried Boyd was doing the same thing to her.[1] Q.M.'s younger sister, H.M., also endured abuse from Boyd. One day, Boyd told L.M. and H.M. that he was taking H.M. to see one of his daughters so they could play together. Instead, Boyd took H.M. to a house and made her wear a dress that L.M. had thrown away because it was "inappropriate" for someone H.M.'s age.[2] Boyd wanted to take "sexy pictures" of H.M. in the dress on his phone, but she was scared and uncomfortable, so Boyd showed her similar pictures he had taken of one of his daughters to make H.M. more comfortable with taking the photographs. Boyd asked H.M. to pose in the dress and took photographs of her with his phone. He then pulled her legs across him, touched her inner thigh, and kissed her neck and lips. Boyd told H.M. that, if she was older, she would be his girlfriend.

H.M. disclosed this event to L.M. and was also interviewed at the CAC. During the interview, H.M. stated she was 11 years old. She explained she was afraid Boyd was going to get mad and come back to "get her" because he told her not to tell anyone. H.M. also disclosed that Boyd rubbed her breasts above and below her clothing on multiple occasions. H.M. drew on two diagrams showing where he had touched her.

Following D.D.'s, Q.M.'s, and H.M.'s disclosures, the State of Missouri charged Boyd with the following six counts of sexual offenses: Count I, first-degree statutory sodomy for abuse involving Q.M.; Count II, first-degree child molestation for abuse involving Q.M.; Counts III and IV, first-degree child molestation for abuse involving H.M.; Count V, felony enticement of a child for conduct involving H.M.; and Count VI, first-degree statutory sodomy for abuse involving D.D.[3] Counts I through V alleged sexual offenses committed against Q.M. and H.M. between 2017 and 2019, and Count VI alleged sexual offenses committed against D.D. between 2008 and 2011.

Prior to trial, Boyd filed a motion to sever Counts I through V from Count VI. He argued severance was appropriate because there was a 10-year difference between the charged offenses and the jury likely would consider evidence of guilt of one charge as evidence of guilt of another charge. The State subsequently filed a notice of intent pursuant to article I, section 18(c) of the Missouri Constitution, to admit evidence of the abuse alleged to have been suffered by D.D., Q.M., H.M. and Boyd's 2004 statutory rape convictions to demonstrate Boyd's propensity to commit the offenses with which he was charged.

After hearing argument on these motions, the circuit court found the propensity evidence the State sought to introduce was reliable and the probative value of the propensity evidence "greatly exceeded the prejudicial effect of said evidence." The court overruled Boyd's motion to sever. Because the court found the evidence supporting the charges Boyd sought to sever from the trial admissible to demonstrate Boyd's propensity to commit such offenses under article I, section 18(c) of the Missouri Constitution, the court found Boyd would suffer no additional prejudice by denying severance. The court also explained it was confident that, with proper instructions, the jury would be able to compartmentalize the evidence and consider each count on its own merits. Finally, the court found joinder was in the best interest of judicial economy because the same evidence would be introduced at both trials if severance were granted pursuant to its propensity evidence ruling.

The day before trial, Boyd renewed his motion to sever. Boyd again argued the charges should be severed because of the 10-year time difference. He further contended severance was appropriate because D.D. was much younger than Q.M. and H.M. at the time of the alleged offenses. The circuit court overruled Boyd's renewed motion.

The case was tried to a jury over four days. At trial, the State introduced testimony from D.D., Q.M., H.M., L.M., the CAC interviewers, and two investigators from the Springfield Police Department; played the video of all three children's CAC interviews; and submitted the children's body diagrams and anatomical drawings indicating where Boyd touched them. Before resting, the State introduced Boyd's 2004 prior convictions for statutory rape of the 14 and 15-year-old sisters pursuant to article I, section 18(c) of the Missouri Constitution. Boyd testified in his own defense. During cross-examination, Boyd responded to questions regarding his prior convictions and his relationships with his children. The trial concluded with closing arguments. The State ended its rebuttal argument by stating "no other child should have to promise not to tell what [Boyd] did to them[.]"[4] The jury found Boyd guilty of all counts. Boyd appeals his convictions.[5]

Analysis

Boyd raises several arguments on appeal. First, he contends the circuit court abused its discretion in failing to sever the charges related to Q.M. and H.M. from the charge related to D.D. Second, he contends there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction for enticement of H.M. In his third fourth, and fifth points, Boyd argues the circuit court plainly erred in failing to sua sponte declare a mistrial when the State elicited testimony during cross-examination regarding Boyd's prior domestic assault conviction, his initial grant of probation for his prior statutory rape conviction, and his relationships with his children. In his sixth point, Boyd argues the circuit court plainly erred in failing to sua sponte declare a mistrial based on...

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