827 S.E.2d 744 (N.C.App. 2019), COA18-750, State v. DeJesus

Docket Nº:COA18-750
Citation:827 S.E.2d 744
Opinion Judge:ZACHARY, Judge.
Party Name:STATE of North Carolina v. Alexander DEJESUS, aka Alexander Sigaru-Argueta
Attorney:Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Special Deputy Attorney General Neil C. Dalton and Assistant Attorney General Kathryne E. Hathcock, for the State. Appellate Defender Glenn Gerding, by Assistant Appellate Defender Katy Dickinson-Schultz, for defendant-appellant.
Judge Panel:HAMPSON, Judge concurs. BERGER, Judge concurs in result only.
Case Date:May 07, 2019
Court:Court of Appeals of North Carolina
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 744

827 S.E.2d 744 (N.C.App. 2019)

STATE of North Carolina

v.

Alexander DEJESUS, aka Alexander Sigaru-Argueta

No. COA18-750

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

May 7, 2019

Heard in the Court of Appeals 14 February 2019.

Page 745

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 746

Appeal by defendant from judgment entered 3 April 2018 by Judge Carl R. Fox in Wake County, No. 16 CRS 223217 Superior Court.

Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Special Deputy Attorney General Neil C. Dalton and Assistant Attorney General Kathryne E. Hathcock, for the State.

Appellate Defender Glenn Gerding, by Assistant Appellate Defender Katy Dickinson-Schultz, for defendant-appellant.

OPINION

ZACHARY, Judge.

Page 747

Defendant Alexander DeJesus, a.k.a. Alexander Sigaru-Argueta, appeals from a judgment entered upon a bench verdict finding him guilty of three counts of statutory rape of a child. Defendant argues that the trial court erred in (1) denying his motion to dismiss two counts of statutory rape based on the corpus delicti rule, (2) admitting a purported copy of the victim’s Honduran birth certificate, and (3) ordering that he enroll in lifetime satellite-based monitoring. We affirm the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to dismiss, conclude that the trial court did not err in admitting the copy of the victim’s Honduran birth certificate, and dismiss Defendant’s appeal concerning the trial court’s satellite-based monitoring order.

Background

Defendant was indicted on 23 January 2017 for three counts of statutory rape of a child, each with a listed offense date of "April 1, 2016 through May 31, 2016." Defendant waived his right to a jury trial, and a bench trial was thereafter held before the Honorable Carl R. Fox in Wake County Superior Court beginning on 2 April 2018.

The evidence tended to show that Defendant was in a relationship with the victim’s mother, and that Defendant, the victim, and the victim’s mother were living together during the time in question. Sometime during the fall of 2016, the victim’s middle school social worker Megan Vaughan noticed that the victim was visibly pregnant. The victim was in seventh grade at the time. After speaking with the victim, Ms. Vaughan filed an incident report with the Raleigh Police Department.

When Detective Alex Doughty met with the victim on 1 December 2016, she identified Defendant as the father of her child. Detective Doughty took several photographs of the victim in order "to show her youth and the fact of her age being what it was. And, unfortunately, ... because of the stage of which her stomach appeared to be."

Detective Doughty also interviewed Defendant on 1 December 2016. Detective Doughty testified that during the interview, he "confronted [Defendant] directly" about the paternity of the victim’s child: [THE STATE:] What was his response to that?

[DETECTIVE DOUGHTY:] I proposed it as an either/or question to him in regards to that I knew that he was the father of the child. What I was concerned about was whether or not that it was consensual or a forced event.

....

Q. What did the defendant say to you about that?

A. He had stated that he had never forced [the victim] and that everything that had occurred between the two of them was consensual.

Q. Now, ... when he said everything that occurred, did you clarify with him what that meant?

A. He defined that as that they had consensual sex on at least three occasions that he could account for.

Q. And how, if at all, did he describe the type of sex that they had?

A. Just vaginal penile. I went into clarity with him about the several methods in which sex could occur as well as any potential sex offenses involving cunnilingus, fellatio. Again, he denied that there was anything other than just vaginal sex.

....

Q. ... You said that he said that it was three times?

A. That’s correct.

Q. And do you recall anything that he said about those three different times?

A. No. He only indicated that there was three times.

Q. Did he— do you recall whether he said that they were separate three times?

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Objection. Leading.

THE COURT: Sustained.

Q. How many different times did he confess to you?

A. Three independent times over the course of, I believe, a month or two. It was maybe several months.

Page 748

The record indicates that the victim gave birth sometime between 21 January 2017 and 23 January 2017. Thereafter, DNA testing established that Defendant was indeed the father of her child.

Defendant was charged with three counts of statutory rape of a child on the basis of his confession. Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-27.23, the State was required to establish that the victim was "under the age of 13" and that Defendant was "at least 18 years of age" at the time of the offenses. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-27.23(a) (2016). Included in the evidence at trial was Defendant’s admission that he was born on 14 October 1994, and that he was therefore 21 years of age during the time alleged in the indictment. The State submitted a purported copy of the victim’s Honduran birth certificate in order to establish that the victim was 12 years old at the time of the incidents. Defendant objected to the admission of the copy of the victim’s Honduran birth certificate on authentication and hearsay grounds, but the trial court overruled Defendant’s objection and admitted the copy of the birth certificate into evidence.

Neither Defendant, the victim, nor her mother testified at trial, and Defendant presented no evidence. At the close of the evidence, Defendant moved the trial court to dismiss two of the statutory rape charges, arguing that "it only takes one time to get pregnant. So where is the rest of the evidence as it applies to [the remaining two] counts .... [T]hat knocks two of the counts out ... just based on the evidence alone." Defendant noted that the only evidence supporting the remaining two charges was his extrajudicial confession, which Defendant maintained was insufficient under the corpus delicti rule.

The trial court denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss and found Defendant guilty of three counts of statutory rape of a child. The trial court sentenced Defendant to 300-420 months in the custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Correction and ordered that he be enrolled in lifetime satellite-based monitoring upon his release. Defendant gave oral notice of appeal from the trial court’s judgment in open court. Defendant did not provide written notice of appeal from the trial court’s order enrolling him in satellite-based monitoring. However, on 23 August 2018, Defendant filed a petition for writ of certiorari requesting that this Court also review the trial court’s satellite-based monitoring order.

Discussion

On appeal, Defendant argues that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss two of his three counts of statutory rape of a child under the corpus delicti rule; (2) the trial court erred in admitting the copy of the victim’s Honduran birth certificate because it was not properly authenticated and constituted inadmissible hearsay; and (3) the trial court’s satellite-based monitoring order must be vacated because the State presented no evidence that Defendant’s enrollment would satisfy the Fourth Amendment.

I. Motion to Dismiss

Defendant first challenges the trial courts denial of his motion to dismiss two of his three statutory rape charges, which arose following Defendants confession that he had vaginal intercourse with the victim on three separate occasions. Defendant recognizes that there was a "confirmatory circumstance to support one count of statutory rape," that is, the victims pregnancy. However, Defendant...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP