Jury convicts McCoy of sexual battery
By By Suzanne Monk / managing editor
June 20, 2002
Leon McCoy's three-day trial in Lauderdale County Circuit Court ended Wednesday in his conviction for the sexual battery of a 15-year-old girl.
Forty-four-year-old McCoy was originally arrested for sexual battery and kidnapping. Jurors deliberated 21/2 hours, convicting him of sexual battery but acquitting him of kidnapping.
The crime occurred on Dec. 10, 1999.
Assistant District Attorneys Dan Angero and Lisa Howell alleged that McCoy forced the victim into his car as she walked to Meridian High School for morning classes. They said McCoy drove the girl to a remote location in Lauderdale County, where he performed oral and anal sex acts and ultimately raped her.
The victim is now 18. She testified, but spoke through tears and had to stop frequently.
McCoy took the stand in his own defense. He testified that the girl told him she did not want to go to school, and asked if she could ride around with him. McCoy said he assented, allowing her to accompany him to a club in Lauderdale County and later dropping her off at Reece Court.
He denied there was any sexual contact.
The jury's verdict indicates that the panel did not believe the girl was forced into McCoy's car, but did believe McCoy sexually assaulted her during the ride.
This week's testimony duplicated, in part, an earlier trial that began Nov. 26, 2001. The charges and the defendant were the same, but McCoy was represented then by public defender Bill Neville. A jury had been selected and the state's first witnesses had testified.
Neville died that night of a heart attack and a mistrial was declared. McCoy was represented by Meridian attorney Pat Jordan in the new trial.
Circuit Judge Larry Roberts is expected to sentence McCoy sometime in the next two weeks.
McCoy was indicted as a habitual offender having been convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Cincinnati in January 1983, and aggravated assault and felon in possession of a firearm in Lauderdale County in August 1994.
Because of his prior criminal record, McCoy will be sentenced under Mississippi's "three strikes" law, which authorizes longer sentences for career criminals. Prosecutors have asked for a life sentence.