Lawson v. State, 06-22-00032-CR

CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas
Writing for the CourtCharles van Cleef Justice.
Docket Number06-22-00032-CR
Decision Date27 September 2022



No. 06-22-00032-CR

Court of Appeals of Texas, Sixth District, Texarkana

September 27, 2022

Do Not Publish

Submitted: August 23, 2022

On Appeal from the 6th District Court Lamar County, Texas Trial Court No. 29014

Before Morriss, C.J., Stevens and van Cleef, JJ.


Charles van Cleef Justice.


After a jury found Jared Steven Lawson guilty of indecency with a child by contact[1] and aggravated sexual assault of a child,[2] he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison on each count, with the sentences to run concurrently. Lawson appeals, asserting that (1) there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction for aggravated sexual assault of a child, (2) there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction for indecency with a child by contact, and (3) the trial court erroneously admitted hearsay statements contained in the sexual assault nurse examiner's (SANE) report. Because we find that there was sufficient evidence to support Lawson's convictions and that the trial court did not err when it admitted the SANE's reports in their entirety, we affirm both judgments of conviction.

I. Background

Fourteen-year-old S.S.[3] testified that, in the early part of 2021, her younger twin sisters, K.W.1 and K.W.2,[4] wanted to speak to her about something Lawson had done to them. According to S.S., they seemed "[s]cared, almost lost, like they didn't know how to say it." Because Lawson was in the house, S.S. took the girls into her room and questioned them there. To prevent Lawson from coming into her room, S.S. told him that she was playing a game with


the girls. When she questioned them, S.S. recorded the conversation on her best friend's cell phone. Later, S.S. played the recording for Lawson to determine whether K.W.2 was telling the truth. Although Lawson denied the allegations, according to S.S., he tried to delete the recording. S.S. waited two days to tell her mother about what had happened "[b]ecause it was only [her] and [her] sisters, and [Lawson] was the only man there and [she] didn't want [them] to get hurt." S.S. said that Lawson's presence in their house scared her. S.S. conceded that she had never seen Lawson, "with [her] own eyes," be inappropriate with either K.W.1 or K.W.2. She said that, although Lawson made her feel uncomfortable, he had never "done anything" to her.

K.W.1 testified that Lawson had been her mother's friend for a long time and that he sometimes lived with them. K.W.1 said that she remembered Lawson hurting her and that he "really hurt[] [her] sister." K.W.1 identified the genitals on a diagram, referring to it as "[a] bad area." According to K.W.1, people are not supposed to touch your "bad area," but she said that Lawson had touched her "bad area" with his hand while she was wearing clothes. She said that it only happened on one occasion. K.W.1 said that she waited to tell her sister, S.S., what Lawson had done to her because she was scared to tell anyone. On cross-examination, K.W.1 agreed that Lawson had touched her quickly with his hand, not his fingers. When asked if she believed it was an accident, K.W.1 initially said that she did not know, and then later agreed that it might have been.

K.W.2 testified that Lawson had lived with her and that, "[a] long time ago,"[5] something had happened in the shed. Initially, K.W.2 shook her head in the negative when asked if she saw


Lawson in the courtroom, but shortly after that, she correctly pointed him out as being the man in the blue shirt. K.W.2 first recalled that Lawson told the family he was going to shoot them. K.W.2 said that Lawson had done something to her on three occasions that she had not liked and that she told S.S. about what happened. K.W.2 agreed that there were spots on her body that other people should not touch. When asked if Lawson had ever touched her on any of those places, K.W.2 nodded her head in the affirmative. She also stated that she referred to those places as "[p]rivate." According to K.W.2, Lawson had touched her on her private with his hands and had done "nasty stuff" to her with his private part. She nodded her head in the affirmative when asked if the "nasty stuff" amounted to what she told the SANE during her examination.

B.S., who is the mother of the three girls, testified that she had known Lawson for over twenty years. Lawson "was [her] very best friend." Lawson stayed with B.S. on several occasions. According to B.S., Lawson would intermittently leave her home and go stay with another friend, but then he would return.

B.S. learned of Lawson's behavior when S.S. asked her "to sit down and have a serious talk." B.S. immediately called K.W.1 into her bedroom, played the recording for her, and asked her if she wanted to talk about what happened. B.S. said, "[K.W.1] explained that [Lawson] came in the bathroom with her on one incident and touched her on her private areas on the outside only." K.W.1 also informed B.S. that she had seen Lawson "French kissing" K.W.2. K.W.1 also told B.S. that she had seen Lawson's clothes folded up on the floor in the girls' bedroom and that Lawson was on top of K.W.2. According to B.S., K.W.1 then "made a motion


like an up and down." When B.S. was asked to clarify her testimony, she explained that K.W.1 had gotten down on the floor and did a "push-up style motion." B.S. interpreted K.W.1's actions to mean "sexual activity of some kind."

In addition, K.W.1 told B.S. that, on one occasion, she saw Lawson throw away K.W.2's clothing. When B.S. asked K.W.1 to explain what she meant, K.W.1 told her that K.W.2's clothes had blood on them and that she believed that Lawson had hurt K.W.2. K.W.1 added, "He brought her -- he carried her in the house in a towel."

B.S. also testified that K.W.1 waited to tell her about what Lawson had done because she was afraid of him. According to K.W.1, Lawson told her that he would kill B.S. in her sleep and that he would "make sure [she] died." Lawson also told K.W.1 that he would burn their house down and then "they would be forced to stay there with him."

B.S. said that she took about ten minutes to "process" what K.W.1 had told her, and then she asked K.W.2 to come into the room.[6] K.W.2 told B.S. about Lawson kissing her and that Lawson made them touch a dog's genitals. K.W.2 also told B.S. that Lawson hurt her "no-no area." B.S. said that "no-no area" meant K.W.2's sexual organ. When asked if Lawson had touched her no-no area on the outside or the inside, K.W.2 indicated that he had touched the inside of her sexual organ with his fingers and his "no-no" parts. According to B.S., K.W.2 told her that Lawson had hurt her "no-no area" "lots of times." B.S. asked K.W.2 why she had not told her about Lawson's behavior sooner. K.W.2 said that she was afraid of him.


After learning what had happened, B.S. told Lawson that he had two and a half weeks to remove his personal belongings from her house.[7] When B.S. asked him why he had hurt her daughters, Lawson initially responded by asking her what she was talking about. B.S. repeated the question, and Lawson again denied that he had done anything to them.

Angela Bates, a forensic interviewer at the Children's Advocacy Center of Paris, conducted interviews with K.W.1 and K.W.2. Bates explained that she had difficulty interviewing K.W.2 due to her lack of focus and inability to concentrate on the conversation.

Kim Basinger, who is a registered nurse and SANE, testified that, on September 17, 2020, she performed the SANE examinations of K.W.1 and K.W.2. Basinger said that, during K.W.1's examination, she appeared calm and quiet. Basinger reported that K.W.1 was dirty and had body odor. B.S. told Basinger that K.W.1 bled when she urinated. Basinger did not find any physical trauma to K.W.1, but she explained that lack of evidence of physical trauma was not unusual in cases such as this one. K.W.1 indicated that she had been sexually abused. Basinger noted, "Pt. states, 'Bad problems by a grown man - Jerod Lawson he did some bad stuff. He put his finger in my no (points to genitalia). It felt nasty and weird. On top of my clothes. He said he will kill my mom if I tell her.'"

Basinger testified that, during her examination, K.W.2 had difficulty sitting still, she kept changing the subject, and she tried to leave the room several times. K.W.2 "[t]alked baby talk." Her "[b]ody and clothing were filthy. Bottom of feet were caked black." Basinger did not find any physical trauma to K.W.2, but she explained that, in non-acute examinations, any injuries


sustained by a patient may have already healed and might not be visible. Basinger said that K.W.2 indicated to her that she had been sexually abused. Basinger wrote, "[P]t states, 'Jerod, he did sex with me[.] My private parts with his private part. One time, clothes on in the bathroom he unlocked it. Using the bathroom.'" S.S. told Basinger that K.W.2 had burning and bleeding around her genitals. According to Basinger, that condition could have been caused by an injury to the area or a urinary tract infection. K.W.2 was able to look at a diagram and identify the genitalia, referring to it as a "no-no."

II. Sufficiency of the Evidence

In his first and second points of error, Lawson asserts that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's verdicts of guilt as to both charges.

A. Standard of Review

"In evaluating legal sufficiency, we review all the evidence in the light most favorable to the trial court's judgment to determine whether any rational jury could have found the essential elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt." Williamson v. State, 589 S.W.3d 292, 297 (Tex App-Texarkana 2019, pet ref'd) (citing Brooks v. State, 323 S.W.3d 893, 912 (Tex Crim App 2010) (plurality op); Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979)); Hartsfield v....

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