A motion for a new trial filed on behalf of an Augusta man convicted last fall of molesting a preschooler was denied Tuesday.
John Morris III, 45, has been serving a 25-year prison sentence since his August conviction in Richmond County Superior Court for aggravated child molestation and child molestation.
Defense attorney Richard Allen attacked the fairness of various aspects of the trial, starting with the inability to effectively cross-examine a 5-year-old child who refused to answer any questions about the allegations against Morris.
Allen also contended the defense was painted as the bad guys when the crying child’s mother, who was also in tears, brought the girl into the courtroom and asked, “Is this really necessary?” while looking at the defense table.
District Attorney Ashley Wright countered that while the child’s mother did make the statement in an emotionally charged trial, the judge immediately told the jury that the child was a witness at the court’s request, shifting any blame the jury might harbor away from either side.
Wright also contended that the child refused to answer questions about the accusation from either attorney. And, she said, the refusal could have led the jury to question the truthfulness of the videotaped statement of the girl telling an expert interviewer what happened.
Morris’ attorney also contended that the videotaped statement was unfairly given more weight because of comments sheriff investigators made while questioning his client. A recording of that statement was also played for the jury. Allen argued that Investigator Mark Dobbins’ comments during the interview, such as victims who provide many details aren’t lying, vouched for the child.
But Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Craig agreed with the prosecutor that the defense could not now claim the recording created a reversible error because no specific objection was made before the recording was played for the jury.