The Mississippi Supreme Court declined to review a former pastor’s 2020 conviction for statutory rape and a sexual assault charge involving two 14-year-old girls, court records show.
Reverend Troy Anthony Piccaluga, 52, was found guilty on March 5, 2020 of the charges and sentenced by Circuit Judge Toni Walker Terrett to 50 years in prison.
Piccaluga appealed the verdict to the Mississippi Court of Appeals, saying the trial judge erred in denying his motion to delete part of his taped interview with law enforcement, allowing ” repeated instances of inappropriate comments by the prosecutor”, allowing the use of a transcript. of a taped telephone call and allowing an ordinary witness to give inappropriate opinion evidence.
The Court of Appeal judges found no reversible error and upheld or affirmed the verdict.
According to the court’s opinion, “there was no ‘prosecution misconduct’ during the trial. Finally, the trial judge did not abuse her discretion in allowing the jurors to use a transcript during the broadcast of the recorded phone call or in dismissing Piccaluga’s objection during the trial’s redirection examination. Investigator (Todd) Dikes.
“Because Piccaluga identifies no reversible error, his convictions and sentences stand.”
“That’s great,” Ninth Circuit District Attorney Ricky Smith said. “It should be over by now. We appreciate that the court rejected the cert. It was a case that was close to our hearts and we are happy that it will not be prolonged by an additional call. »
Piccaluga is serving his sentence at the Eastern Mississippi Correctional Facility in Meridian, his expected release date is September 2069.
Piccaluga, then 48, and a former pastor of Eagle Lake and Redwood United Methodist Churches, was arrested March 30, 2018, at his home in the community of Redwood by Warren County Sheriff’s Deputies after an investigation into a complaint about a girl aged 14 and 16 having sex with an older man.
The second victim was discovered during the investigation of the initial complaint, and he was initially charged with two counts of rape of a minor and one count of sexual assault.
At trial, the jury was unable to rule on one count of rape.
Piccaluga’s sentencing was originally set for March 27.
As the sentencing was announced at trial, Piccaluga allegedly attempted suicide in the courtroom and was later placed on suicide watch while being held in the Warren County Jail.
When the clerk was reading the guilty verdict, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said after the trial that deputies in the courtroom saw Piccaluga, who was on bail, “pull out a handful of what appeared to be be pills out of his pocket and take them”.
Piccaluga was taken to the Merit Health River area emergency room, where he was treated, then released and incarcerated in the Warren County Jail.