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Law Enforcement Report

Supreme Court Overturns Sea’s Conviction

By David Howell

JACKSON – An April, 2009, conviction of a Yalobusha County man was overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court last Thursday in a split 5-4 decision.

Curtis Leonard Sea had been convicted in Yalobusha County Circuit Court on five counts of sexual battery and sentenced to 25 years. An initial nine-count indictment had been handed down by a Yalobusha County Grand Jury in June of 2007.  He was acquitted on the other four charges including three counts of statutory rape and one count of sexual battery.

The indictments stemmed from inappropriate behavior with four minor sisters, ranging in age from four to 10 at the time of the trial.

Sea, 47, appealed the sentence, claiming his attorney did not provide an adequate defense. The appeal was granted after five of the nine Supreme Court Justices criticized the introduction of Sea’s previous convictions involving sex offenses with minors during the 2009 trial, according to the ruling.

The previous convictions should not have been admissible in the trial “if a period of more than 10 years has elapsed since the date of the conviction or the release of the witness from the confinement imposed for the conviction,” the ruling records.

Sea’s attorney did not file a motion for exclusions of the past convictions, so the trial judge did not conduct the Rule 609 balancing test to determine if the prejudice created by ad-mitting the previous convictions substantially outweighed their probative value in the case, the ruling also stated.

Sheriff’s Department Launches Campaign

Drunk driving is one of America’s deadliest crimes.  In 2009, over 11,000 people died in highway crashes involving a driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration (BrAC) of .08 or higher.

The Yalobusha County Sheriff’s Department is joining with thousands of other law enforcement and highway safety agencies across the nation from Dec. 16 to Jan. 3, to take part in the Drunk Driving Over the Limit Under Arrest campaign.

“We are proud to be a recipient of a full-time DUI Officer grant from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety,” reported Sheriff Lance Humphreys.

“This grant specifically allows Deputy Ryan Winters to be paid from the grant to enforce traffic laws.  The DUI Grant also allows other officers to work and be paid overtime,” Humphreys added.

“We will be out in force conducting sobriety checkpoints.  Our goal is to save lives and making the public streets and highways of this county a safer place to travel on,” Deputy Winters added.      

“Driving impaired is simply not worth the risk.  Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for impaired driving can be significant,” Winters said.

This December’s effort is supported by over $7 million in paid-national advertising to help put everyone on notice that if they are caught driving impaired, they will be arrested.  

If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact your local law enforcement agency.

For more information, visit www.StopImpaired

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