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Simms v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

September 15, 2017

JAMES SIMMS APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM CARTER CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE REBECCA K. PHILLIPS, JUDGE ACTION NO. 14-CR-00031

          BRIEF FOR APPELLANT: Kathleen K. Schmidt Department of Public Advocacy Linda Roberts Horsman

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Andy Beshear Attorney General of Kentucky Bryan D. Morrow Assistant Attorney General

          BEFORE: COMBS, D. LAMBERT, AND NICKELL, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          LAMBERT, D., JUDGE

         James Simms appeals from a Carter Circuit Court judgment imposing a sentence of two years and six months after a jury found him guilty of sexual abuse in the first degree as a lesser-included offense of rape. His sole argument on appeal is that the trial court erred in not suppressing statements made to the police without a Miranda warning.

          I. BACKGROUND

         S.R., a twelve-year-old girl, told a school friend that she had a sexual encounter with Simms, her adult cousin, while he was babysitting her. The friend told a teacher who contacted Social Services. Kentucky State Police Detective Chris Boarman and a social services representative interviewed the girl who told them that Simms raped her.

         Detective Boarman interviewed Simms at his residence later the same day. Simms denied raping S.R., but confirmed that he watched her while her guardian, her grandmother, was hospitalized. He also stated that he was a valuable member of the community and was due to become a father in the following month.

         On January 15, 2014, S.R. had a forensic examination conducted at Hope's Place Child Advocacy Center. She reported that Simms raped her and wore a condom when he did so. The examination revealed medical trauma consistent with sexual activity. S.R. also had a medical condition which prevented the doctor from completing the examination.

         On the next day, Detective Boarman again spoke to Simms, who recommended that he speak with a family friend, Wanda Click. Click told Boarman that S.R. had recanted her accusations. This led to a second interview with S.R. During that second interview, S.R. indeed recanted her allegations.

         On January 27, 2014, S.R.'s lab test came back showing she was positive for a sexually transmitted disease. Social Services removed S.R. from her home. Detective Boarman interviewed S.R. again. This time, S.R. reaffirmed her original rape allegations and explained that Wanda Click had pressured her to change her story.

         Simms later volunteered to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases; he tested positive for the same condition as S.R. Detective Boarman decided to interview him again and confront him with the test results. Simms agreed to drive to the police station for the interview, which was conducted by Detective Boarman and Detective Chris Carter.

         At the police station, Boarman told Simms he was not in custody and was free to leave at any time. Boarman also told Simms that he could get up and walk out the door if he was uncomfortable. After these initial statements, Boarman confronted Simms with the lab results. Simms responded that he wanted to get something off his chest. Simms stated that S.R. had come on to him and told him that she had been looking at pornographic magazines and wondered how it might feel for someone to do to her what she had seen in the magazines. Simms admitted that S.R. touched ...


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