Brown v. State, A13A1595.

Decision Date14 November 2013
Docket NumberNo. A13A1595.,A13A1595.
Citation324 Ga.App. 718,751 S.E.2d 517
PartiesBROWN v. The STATE.
CourtGeorgia Court of Appeals


Agis Reginald Bray III, for Appellant.

Frances C. Kuo, Asst. Dist. Atty., Tracy Graham-Lawson, Dist. Atty., for Appellee.

BRANCH, Judge.

Marquis Brown was tried by a Clayton County jury and convicted on four counts of child molestation.1 In this out-of-time appeal from the denial of his motion for a new trial, Brown argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. Brown also asserts that the trial court erred in requiring that the written statement given to police by one of the victims be redacted before it could be introduced at trial, thereby precluding him from impeaching that victim's credibility. Additionally, Brown alleges error by the trial court in allowing the introduction of testimony that Brown had previously committed acts of domestic violence against the mother of his victims. We find no error and affirm.

“On appeal from a criminal conviction, the defendant is no longer entitled to a presumption of innocence and we therefore construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury's guilty verdict.” (Citation omitted.) Marriott v. State, 320 Ga.App. 58, 739 S.E.2d 68 (2013). So viewed, the record shows that Brown's victims, J.C. and T.D., are the daughters of his former girlfriend. Brown lived with the mother and daughters for approximately 2 years, and during that time he molested J.C. on three occasions and T.D. on one occasion.

J.C. testified that when she was seven years old she was watching television in a bedroom with Brown when Brown moved close to her and fondled her buttocks. He then instructed J.C. that if she told anyone about the incident, he would kill the girl and her mother. J.C. further testified that on another occasion she was watching television when Brown entered the room and began to play a DVD of a pornographic movie. When J.C. closed her eyes to avoid watching the television screen, Brown told her to open her eyes and made her stay in the room and watch the movie twice. And Brown again told J.C. that if she reported the incident to anyone, he would kill her family. On a third occasion, J.C. was lying on her mother's bed with Brown, with the two of them on opposite sides. Brown suddenly grabbed J.C.'s hand, pulled it toward him and under the covers, and placed the child's hand on his penis.

J.C.'s older sister, T.D., testified that when she was 12 years old, she returned from a trip to the swimming pool and Brown told her to shower and wash her hair, which she did. After she finished her shower and dressed, Brown came into the bathroom naked and insisted that T.D. had not washed her hair. Although T.D. tried to argue with Brown about this fact, he made her undress and take a second shower to re-wash her hair. As T.D. was showering a second time, Brown, who was still naked, joined T.D. in the shower, stood in front of her, and washed her hair himself.

Brown's conduct came to light after he and the girls' mother broke up and he moved out of their house. During a conversation with her mother, J.C. stated that while she missed Brown's children, she did not miss Brown. When her mother pressed J.C. as to why she did not miss Brown, the child told her about the molestation. The mother then questioned T.D., who also admitted that Brown had molested her.

At trial, J.C. explained that she did not report the incidents at the time they occurred because she believed Brown when he said he would kill her mother and her family if she told anyone. T.D. testified that she did not report the molestation to her mother when it happened because she was afraid her mother “would get beat up again.” She then explained that Brown had beaten her mother on prior occasions.

After the mother learned of the molestation, she contacted police. Officers then interviewed both girl, and both J.C. and T.D. provided police with written statements about the acts of molestation. Additionally, while at home J.C. wrote a second statement about her molestation, which her mother eventually found and gave to police. All three of these written statements were admitted into evidence at trial.

The police arranged for both of the victims to undergo forensic interviews at a local facility specializing in assisting victims of child abuse and molestations. Each of these interviews was recorded, and copies of these recordings were introduced into evidence and played for the jury. Chantsy Watkins, the certified forensic interviewer who conducted the interviews of both J.C. and T.D. testified at trial and was qualified as an expert in the forensic interviewing of children. Watkins opined that the statements made by each of the victims during their respective interviews were consistent with their claims of molestation. She further testified that, in her professional opinion, neither of the victims exhibited any signs of having been coached with respect to their allegations.

Brown testified in his own defense and denied that he had ever touched either of the victims inappropriately or that any of the incidents the victims testified about had happened.

Based on the foregoing evidence, the jury found Brown guilty of four counts of child molestation. Following his conviction, Brown filed a motion for a new trial. which was denied. Brown subsequently filed a motion for an out-of-time appeal, which the trial court granted. This appeal followed.

1. Brown argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions for two reasons. First, Brown points to the fact that the only evidence supporting these allegations are the statements and testimony of the victims themselves, and their testimony was contradicted by his own. Georgia law, however, “does not require corroboration of a child molestation victim's testimony.” (Punctuation and footnote omitted.) Barnes v. State, 299 Ga.App. 253, 254–255(1), 682 S.E.2d 359 (2009). Thus, the testimony of the victims, standing alone, was sufficient to support Brown's convictions. Id. See also Reid v. State, 319 Ga.App. 782, 783(1), 738 S.E.2d 624 (2013) (“the testimony of a single witness is generally sufficient to prove a fact, including child molestation”) (citations omitted). Moreover, the evidence showed that when describing Brown's conduct toward them, the victims were consistent in their outcry statements, their statements to police, their forensic interviews, and their trial testimony. The jury was aware of this consistency and could take that into consideration in evaluating the victims' testimony. See Kelley v. State, 308 Ga.App. 418, 420–421, 707 S.E.2d 619 (2011); Brown v. State, 295 Ga.App. 542, 544, 672 S.E.2d 514 (2009). Additionally, [a]lthough Brown testified that he did not commit the charged offense[s], the jury was not required to believe Brown's testimony, nor to disbelieve the [S]tate's witnesses.” (Footnote omitted.) Brown, 295 Ga.App. at 544, 672 S.E.2d 514.

Brown also points out that to convict him of child molestation, the State was required to prove that he committed an “immoral or indecent act to or in the presence of or with any child under the age of 16 years with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the person.” OCGA § 16–6–4(a)(1). Brown contends that even if the State did prove that he forced J.C. to watch pornography and showered with T.D., the State failed to prove that he engaged in that conduct “with the intent to arouse or satisfy [his] sexual desires.” In support of this contention, Brown cites the victims' testimony that Brown showed no signs of physical arousal during either of these incidents. This argument is not supported by relevant law.

The child molestation statute “does not require proof of [the defendant's] actual arousal.” Cline v. State, 224 Ga.App. 235, 236(1), 480 S.E.2d 269 (1997) (rejecting defendant's argument that State failed to prove child molestation where evidence showed he did not obtain or maintain an erection during the charged incidents). Instead, the law requires only that the defendant have acted with the intent to arouse his sexual desires. OCGA § 16–6–4(a). The question of intent “is peculiarly a question of fact for determination by the jury,” Blanton v. State, 191 Ga.App. 454, 455(1), 382 S.E.2d 133 (1989), which may infer a defendant's intent from the evidence presented at trial. Branam v. State, 204 Ga.App. 205, 206(1), 419 S.E.2d 86 (1992). See also OCGA § 16–2–6 (the trier of fact may find the requisite criminal intent “upon consideration of the words, conduct, demeanor, motive, and all other circumstances connected with the act for which the accused is prosecuted”). Where the jury finds the requisite intent, that finding will not be reversed on appeal provided there is some evidence supporting the jury's inference. Howard v. State, 268 Ga.App. 558, 559, 602 S.E.2d 295 (2004) ( “when a finding that the accused had the intent to commit the crime charged is supported by evidence which is exceedingly weak and unsatisfactory the verdict will not be set aside on that ground”) (citation and punctuation omitted).

We have previously found that evidence showing that the defendant [s]imply expos[ed][his] sexual organs to a child without any physical conduct,” even if the child did not actually see those organs, sufficed to prove that the defendant acted with the intent to arouse or gratify his sexual desires. Rainey v. State, 261 Ga.App. 888, 889–890(1), 584 S.E.2d 13 (2003). See also Hathcock v. State, 214 Ga.App. 188, 190(2), 447 S.E.2d 104 (1994). Accordingly, the jury could infer that when Brown showered in the nude with a naked T.D., he did so with the intent to arouse or satisfy himself sexually. The jury could also infer that Brown acted with the intent to arouse himself when he forced J.C. to watch a pornographic movie with him. See Grimsley v. State, 233 Ga.App. 781, 784–785(1), 505 S.E.2d 522 (1998) (exposing children to explicit...

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