Thursday, December 13, 2012

Summary 2012 WY 155

Summary of Decision December 13, 2012

Justice Hill delivered the opinion for the Court. Affirmed.


Docket Number: S 12 0034


Appeal from the District Court of Lincoln County, Honorable Dennis L. Sanderson, Judge

Representing Appellant (Plaintiff/Defendant): Elisabeth M.W. Trefonas, Assistant Public Defender, Jackson, WY.

Representing Appellee (Plaintiff/Defendant): Gregory A. Phillips, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Theodore R. Racines, Senior Assistant Attorney General; and Jeffrey Pope, Assistant Attorney General.

Date of Decision: December 13, 2012

Facts: In October of 2010, Donald Hutchinson was charged with one count of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree. The charges against Hutchinson alleged that he inappropriately touched a six-year-old girl’s vagina for sexual gratification while bathing her. Hutchinson was the victim’s step-grandfather at the time. The victim (HAL) reported the incident to her 14-year-old brother (TL), who then told their grandmother, who reported the information to authorities of the allegations, and an investigation followed. Eventually, the case was tried to a jury on November 7-8, 2011, and Hutchinson was found guilty. He was sentenced to two to eight years at the State penitentiary. On appeal, he contends that the victim was incompetent to testify and that the district court improperly denied his Motion for Judgment of Acquittal.

Issues: Hutchinson presents two issues:

1. Because the competency of the child witness was not properly examined and she was not competent to testify, it was clearly erroneous to allow her testimony and Hutchinson’s conviction must be reversed.

2. Because there was no evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Hutchinson had “sexual contact” with the victim, it was an abuse of discretion to deny the Motion for Judgment of Acquittal and Hutchinson’s conviction must be reversed.

Holdings: The Court concluded that the trial court’s decision that the child victim was competent to testify was not clearly erroneous. Having passed the five-part test elicited by the Court during an impromptu but proper hearing, finding HAL competent to testify was squarely within the court’s sound discretion. Furthermore, after a thorough record review, and accepting the evidence as true and giving every favorable inference thereto, we find that the State presented sufficient evidence to show that Hutchinson engaged in sexual contact with HAL. Thus, the Court concluded the district court properly denied Hutchinson’s Motion for Judgment of Acquittal. Affirmed.

Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court

[SPECIAL NOTE: This opinion uses the "Universal Citation." It was given an "official" citation when it was issued. You should use this citation whenever you cite the opinion, with a P.3d parallel citation. You will also note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you need to provide a pinpoint citation to a quote the universal portion of the citation will use that paragraph number. The pinpoint citation in the P.3d portion will need to have the reporter page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation from this, or any future opinion using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library and we will provide any needed assistance]

No comments:

Check out our tags in a cloud (from Wordle)!