MCFADDEN, P. J., RAY and RICKMAN, JJ.
a jury trial, Richard Carlton Meddings, II, was convicted on
four counts of child molestation and two counts of aggravated
child molestation. He appeals from his convictions and the
trial court's denial of his motion for new trial,
contending that the trial court erred when it denied his
motion to suppress his confessions. He also contends that the
evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, that he
had ineffective assistance of counsel, and that he was denied
his rights to due process based on post-trial delay. For the
reasons that follow, we affirm.
appeal from his criminal conviction, Meddings is no longer
presumed innocent and all of the evidence is viewed in the
light most favorable to the jury's verdict. Lipscomb
v. State, 315 Ga.App. 437, 439 (727 S.E.2d 221) (2012).
evidence adduced at trial shows that in 2007, the 14-year-old
victim, A. T., and other family members lived with Meddings
in Houston County. Meddings was married to A. T.'s
half-sister. A. T. testified at trial that, during this time,
Meddings molested her on several occasions by touching her
vaginal area with his hands, mouth, and penis, by touching
her buttocks with his penis, and by having her place her hand
and mouth on his penis. Although A. T. was initially afraid
to tell anyone about the sexual abuse, she eventually made an
outcry to her mother.
her outcry, a forensic interview of A. T. was conducted at
the Rainbow House, a child advocacy center, wherein A. T.
described Meddings' acts of sexual abuse. Later, a child
abuse investigator with the Houston County Department of
Family and Children Services and Corporal Hilton, a juvenile
investigator with the Houston County Sheriff's
Department, went to A. T.'s school to interview her.
During this follow-up interview, A. T. described
Meddings' acts of sexual abuse in great detail.
A. T.'s disclosure, A. T.'s half-sister became angry
at A. T. and accused her of lying about the sexual abuse.
Under pressure from her sister and other family members, A.
T. was coerced into writing a letter recanting her
allegations. At trial, however, A. T. confirmed that Meddings
had indeed molested her and that her testimony about the acts
of sexual abuse was the truth.
evidence at trial further showed that on May 10, 2007,
Meddings was interviewed twice by Corporal Hilton. In the
first interview, which was video-recorded, Meddings denied
any wrongdoing and agreed to go take a polygraph test. When
he met with the polygraph examiner later that morning,
however, Meddings confessed to his crimes during the pre-test
interview. After admitting his guilt to the polygraph
examiner, Meddings wrote out a statement summarizing his
confession. The polygraph examiner then made a telephone call
to Corporal Hill and faxed Meddings' written confession
leaving the polygraph examiner's office, Meddings met
with Corporal Hilton again that same day for a second
video-recorded interview, wherein he confirmed his written
confession. Although Corporal Hilton was now aware of
Meddings' confession, she did not place Meddings under
arrest at that time. Rather, she allowed Meddings to leave to
get his affairs in order before his arrest.
15, 2007, Meddings turned himself in to Corporal Hilton to be
placed under arrest. After being advised of his Miranda
rights, Meddings participated in a third video-recorded
interview, wherein he gave Corporal Hilton a more detailed
confession regarding his crimes.
oral and written confessions to the polygraph examiner and
the video recordings of Meddings' oral confessions to
Corporal Hilton were admitted into evidence at trial over
Meddings' objection. After considering all of the
evidence, including the testimony of the child-victim and the
evidence of Meddings' confessions, the jury found
Meddings guilty of all charges in the indictment. This appeal
Meddings first contends that the trial court erred in denying
his motion to suppress his confessions. Specifically, he
argues that his confessions were involuntary and inadmissible
because they were induced by an improper promise of benefit.
render a confession admissible under Georgia law, "it
must have been made voluntarily, without being induced by
another by the slightest hope of benefit or remotest fear of
injury." See former OCGA § 24-3-50. The statutory
reference to "the slightest hope of benefit" refers
to promises related to reduced criminal punishment such as
"a shorter sentence, lesser charges, or no charges at
all." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Finley v.
State, 298 Ga. 451, 454 (3) (782 S.E.2d 651) (2016). In
determining whether an in-custody statement was made freely
and voluntarily, a trial court must consider the
"totality of the circumstances" and apply a
"preponderance of the evidence" standard. (Citation
omitted.) Philpot v. State, 300 Ga. 154, 158 (3)
(794 S.E.2d 140) (2016). Further, "[b]ecause
admissibility of such a statement presents a mixed question
of fact and law, on appeal, we accept the trial court's
findings on disputed facts and credibility of witnesses
unless clearly erroneous and independently apply the legal
principles to the facts." (Citation and punctuation
hearing on the motion to suppress, Corporal Hilton testified
that, on the morning of Meddings' scheduled polygraph
examination, she did not pressure, threaten, or promise
anything to Meddings, nor did she give him any kind of
inducement to persuade him to talk to the polygraph examiner.
Our review of the video-recording of this particular
interview indicates that Corporal Hilton informed Meddings
that "today is the only day that I can help you."
However, to put her statement into context, we note that
Corporal Hilton further explained to Meddings that she is
part of a multi-disciplinary team which includes
investigators, the district attorney, psychologists, child
advocates, and others, and that the multi-disciplinary team
meets monthly to discuss pending cases involving abused
children. She also explained to Meddings that the district
attorney may ask her for a recommendation at one of these
meetings, and she informed Meddings that if he was open and
honest with her, she could inform the district attorney of
his cooperation and that she might not recommend the maximum