In March 2006, a child related to Rubin Renfrow spoke to an elementary school counselor. It is unclear what the child said to the school counselor, but whatever the child said, the school counselor was concerned that the child had been exposed to inappropriate matters of a sexual nature. The school counselor relayed his concerns to the child’s father and Kim Fulgram with the Rankin County Department of Human Services. Fulgram contacted Brian Ervin, a counselor with the Rankin County Child Advocacy Center. On March 8, 2006, Ervin interviewed the child who spoke to the school counselor. Ervin also interviewed the child’s sibling. The children, then ages four and six years old, indicated that Renfrow showed them pictures that he had on his computer. To paraphrase the children, Renfrow showed them pictures of naked adults and children. The inference was that Renfrow had showed the children pictures of adult and child pornography. The children also allegedly indicated that Renfrow had touched them inappropriately.
Because the events described by the children were to have taken place in Simpson County, Fulgram contacted the Simpson County Sheriff’s Department. On March 16, 2006, the children’s father met with Investigator Bernard Gunter of the Simpson County Sheriff’s Department. Investigator Gunter also watched the videotape of Erwin’s interviews of the children. On March 21, 2006, Investigator Gunter applied for and obtained warrants to arrest Renfrow and to search Renfrow’s home and seize his computer. That same day, Investigator Gunter executed the warrants. Investigator Gunter went to Renfrow’s home in Simpson County, arrested Renfrow, and seized Renfrow’s computer. Investigator Gunter delivered Renfrow’s computer to the Mississippi Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit (the Cyber Crime Center), where forensic investigators Sherita Sullivan and Keith Leavitt examined Renfrow’s computer. Succinctly stated, the investigation of Renfrow’s computer involved creating a forensic duplicate of Renfrow’s hard drive and then examining the forensic duplicate.
Meanwhile, Renfrow had been arrested and released from custody. However, on March 16, 2007, Renfrow reported to the Simpson County Sheriff’s Department after Investigator Gunter had placed a card on the door of Renfrow’s home and requested that Renfrow report to the Simpson County Sheriff’s Department. Investigator Gunter later explained that he intended to serve Renfrow with a capias. However, when Renfrow reported, he informed Investigator Gunter that he would waive his rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present and would allow Investigator Gunter to interview him. Renfrow executed a document waiving his rights and allowed Investigator Gunter to interview him while Sheriff Kenneth Lewis was present. During that interview, Renfrow stated that he knew he had pictures depicting child pornography on his computer. However, he also stated that he obtained the pictures inadvertently. To summarize Renfrow’s version of events, he received unsolicited e-mails that included the pictures depicting child pornography, he did not know who sent him the pictures, and he tried to delete the pictures.
Investigator Gunter attempted to create a videotaped recording of Renfrow’s interview. However, after the interview had ended, Investigator Gunter discovered that he had failed to activate a switch that would have created an audio recording of the interview. In other words, Investigator Gunter only had a video recording of the interview. There was no audio recording. Investigator Gunter then wrote a summary of Renfrow’s interview. Sheriff Lewis signed Investigator Gunter’s summary and indicated that he shared Investigator Gunter’s recollection of Renfrow’s interview.
Renfrow was convicted of possession of child pornography and sentenced to 15 years. On appeal, he argued the warrant was stale and that the statement should have been suppressed. MCOA affirmed.
A. Probable cause for search warrant
Renfrow argued that the alleged inappropriate touching occurred nine or ten months before Investigator Gunter sought to obtain the search warrant. According to Renfrow, the information relied upon was given by two young children almost one year after the alleged incident, and it cannot be deemed credible because they could not state a specific date for the alleged incident. Renfrow concludes that the time lapse of almost one year certainly rendered the search warrant stale. We disagree.
Although it is true that the children involved in the underlying alleged incident stated that Renfrow showed them pictures of naked adults and children on his computer and suggested that Renfrow may have touched them inappropriately sometime in April or May 2005, that is not the end of the analysis. Authorities were unaware of the allegation until March 2006.
As mentioned, Erwin, a child advocacy counselor, interviewed the children promptly after one of the children first gave a school counselor reason for concern. Investigator Gunter promptly received a copy of the videotape of Erwin’s interviews. After Investigator Gunter watched the interview, he promptly sought to obtain the search warrant. The probable cause for the search warrant was not rendered stale simply because Investigator Gunter first discovered the allegations nine or ten months after the alleged incident occurred. This is especially true in the context of allegations by small children, who may be too ashamed or frightened to inform others that something inappropriate may have occurred because they were expressly ordered or threatened to remain silent.
Based on the totality of the circumstances, we find that there was a substantial basis for the issuance of the search warrant. Additionally, it was reasonable for the judge who issued the search warrant to conclude that images on a computer could still be recovered by forensic methods nine or ten months after the children saw them. Sullivan’s examination report stated that she was able to recover all available files, including those previously deleted. Accordingly, because the images were stored on a computer, the probable cause for Investigator Gunter’s search warrant was not rendered stale by the passage of time. We find no merit to this issue.
B. Renfrow’s statement
Next, Renfrow argues that the circuit court erred when it did not suppress Investigator Gunter’s statement regarding his recollection of his interview of Renfrow. In an effort to serve Renfrow with a capias, Investigator Gunter left a note on Renfrow’s door and requested that Renfrow report to the Simpson County Sheriff’s Department. Investigator Gunter’s note only included a request that Renfrow go to the sheriff’s department. Investigator Gunter’s note did not mention the capias.
In any event, Renfrow went to the sheriff’s department as requested. However, once there, Renfrow expressed his willingness to waive his rights and submit to an interview by Investigator Gunter. Renfrow executed a document and waived his rights. Investigator Gunter interviewed Renfrow while Sheriff Lewis sat in on the interview. Investigator Gunter intended to create a videotape of the interview.
After the interview, Investigator Gunter discovered that he had only obtained a video recording of Renfrow’s interview. Investigator Gunter did not have any audio recording of the interview. Investigator Gunter then immediately sat down and did a statement of facts to what he and Mr. Renfrow had talked about. Sheriff Lewis signed Investigator Gunter’s recollection of the interview and indicated that he agreed with Investigator Gunter’s recollection. According to Investigator Gunter, during the interview, Renfrow stated that he knew he had child pornography on his computer. However, he also stated that he obtained the child pornography inadvertently. According to Renfrow, people on the Internet sent the images without his solicitation of them.
According to Renfrow, the circuit court should have suppressed Investigator Gunter’s statement because: (1) it was not voluntary because Investigator Gunter enticed Renfrow to come to the sheriff’s department; (2) Renfrow never signed the statement; and (3) it was not Renfrow’s statement; instead, it was merely Investigator Gunter’s recollection of what was said during Renfrow’s interview.
As for Renfrow’s claim that Investigator Gunter enticed him to go to the sheriff’s department, Investigator Gunter merely left a note at Renfrow’s house. In that note, Investigator Gunter requested that Renfrow go to the sheriff’s department, but Investigator Gunter did not ask Renfrow to waive his rights or agree to be interviewed. There is no evidence that Investigator Gunter or anyone else promised Renfrow anything in exchange for his agreeing to be interviewed. There is no evidence that Renfrow went to the sheriff’s department or agreed to be interviewed based on any enticement by Investigator Gunter or anyone else. We find no error in the circuit court’s decision to deny suppressing Investigator Gunter’s recollection statement based on Renfrow’s allegation of enticement.
Renfrow claims that the circuit court should have suppressed Investigator Gunter’s recollection of Renfrow’s interview because it was not actually Renfrow’s statement and Renfrow never signed Investigator Gunter’s recollection statement. However, admissibility of an unsigned statement is an issue of the accuracy of a statement and not the voluntariness of a statement. See Craft v. State, 380 So. 2d 251 (Miss. 1980). We find no merit to Renfrow’s claim that the circuit court erred when it declined to suppress Investigator Gunter’s recollection statement based on the fact that it was Investigator Gunter’s recollection of the interview and Renfrow did not sign the statement. Those matters pertained to the weight and credibility of the statement, and those matters are for the jury to consider.
It bears mentioning that Investigator Gunter’s recollection of Renfrow’s statements corroborated Renfrow’s defense at trial. That is, Investigator Gunter noted that Renfrow said he did not solicit the images depicting child pornography and that Renfrow did not intentionally obtain the images. That was Renfrow’s theory of the case. Accordingly, Renfrow was not prejudiced by the circuit court’s decision to deny Renfrow’s motion to suppress Investigator Gunter’s recollection of Renfrow’s interview. This issue is without merit.