The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld the convictions and prison sentence of a former Centerville salon owner and hair stylist found guilty of molesting three teenage boys in 2011.
In 2014, Matthew Caleb Pierce was found guilty by a Houston County jury of six counts of aggravated child molestation, two counts of child molestation, two counts of sexual battery, one count of sexual exploitation of a child, and two counts of distribution of controlled substances. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Pierce was convicted of engaging in sex acts with one teenager while the boy was under the influence of alcohol that Pierce gave him. Jurors also found Pierce guilty of engaging in sex acts with another teenager who was under the influence of prescription drugs that Pierce gave him. The boy engaged in the sex acts in exchange for more of the prescription drugs, the anti-anxiety medication Xanax and the pain medication Dilaudid. Pierce also sexually exploited a third teenager by obtaining a photo of the teenager’s penis in a text message.
At trial, Pierce testified that the teenagers, all 14 years old at the time, made up the stories against him to avoid getting into trouble.
Pierce’s trial lawyer requested a mistrial, which a judge denied. The request was based on a video interview of one of the teenagers being played at trial despite the teenager’s initially testifying that he didn’t remember talking with police or anything about the acts of molestation.
The trial broke for lunch, and after the recess, a prosecutor asked the teenager additional questions, and the teenager said he remembered giving the statement.
Pierce’s appellate lawyers argued that the judge made several errors, including allowing the video to be admitted as evidence after the teenager refused to testify about details of the alleged sexual offenses.
However, the Georgia Supreme Court found found that all of defense claims were without merit and affirmed the convictions and sentencing.
After viewing the videotaped statement at trial, the teenager stated that he was the person in the video, he remembered giving the statement, he had knowledge of what he was talking about in the video, he told the truth when he gave the statement, and the things he discussed were fresh in his memory, the court’s ruling stated.
“This was sufficient to establish (under state law) that the videotaped statement concerned a matter about which (the teenager) once had knowledge but at trial had insufficient recollection, which was made or adopted when the matter was fresh in his memory, and which correctly reflected his knowledge,” the ruling said. “The trial court therefore did not abuse its discretion in allowing the admission of this evidence.”
Telegraph archives were used in this report.