Rimer v. State

Decision Date11 June 2015
Docket NumberNo. 58711.,58711.
Citation351 P.3d 697,131 Nev. Adv. Op. 36
PartiesStanley Earnest RIMER, Appellant, v. The STATE of Nevada, Respondent.
CourtNevada Supreme Court

Philip J. Kohn, Public Defender, and Nancy Lemcke, Deputy Public Defender, Clark County, for Appellant.

Adam Paul Laxalt, Attorney General, Carson City; Steven B. Wolfson, District Attorney, Steven S. Owens, Chief Deputy District Attorney, and David L. Stanton, Deputy District Attorney, Clark County, for Respondent.

Before the Court En Banc.


By the Court, DOUGLAS, J.:

Appellant Stanley Earnest Rimer raises numerous claims of error on appeal. We focus on two: (1) whether child abuse and neglect is a continuing offense for purposes of the statute of limitations, and (2) whether multiple charges can be properly joined in a single trial if they evince a pattern of abuse and neglect.

To determine whether child abuse and neglect is a continuing offense, we apply the legislative-intent test set forth in Toussie v. United States, 397 U.S. 112, 90 S.Ct. 858, 25 L.Ed.2d 156 (1970). We conclude that the Legislature intended for child abuse and neglect to be treated as a continuing offense and therefore the statute of limitations did not begin to run until the last act of abuse or neglect was completed.

To determine whether multiple charges can be properly joined in a single trial if they evince a pattern of abuse and neglect, we revisit our joinder jurisprudence. We explain that charges are connected together if evidence of either charge would be admissible for a relevant, nonpropensity purpose in a separate trial for the other charge. We conclude that multiple charges that evince a pattern of abuse and neglect are connected together and can be properly joined in a single trial to show intent or lack of accident or mistake. And we reiterate that even when charges have been properly joined, some form of relief may be necessary to avert unfair prejudice to the defendant. There was, however, no unfair prejudice demonstrated in this case sufficient to warrant severance.

We conclude that none of the many claims that Rimer presented for our review warrant relief, and we affirm the judgment of conviction.


Stanley and Colleen Rimer had eight children: Jason, Spencer, Enoch, Quaylyn, Aaron, Crystal, Brandon, and Stanley, III. Their youngest child, Jason, was born on March 11, 2004, and was found dead on June 9, 2008. At the time of Jason's death, Spencer was 9, Enoch was 11, Quaylyn was 14, Aaron was 15, and Crystal was 17 years old, and Brandon and Stanley were adults.

Jason was born with congenital myotonic dystrophy

, a chronic condition that affected his muscles and made it difficult for him to breathe, swallow, talk, and walk. Even at four years old, he walked like a baby, required diapers, and communicated mostly by fussing or screaming. He was treated by a neurologist, a gastroenterologist, a cardiologist, an orthopedist, a speech pathologist, a physical therapist, and a nutritionist. For a while, he was fed through a gastrostomy tube (G-tube ) that was inserted through his abdomen so that food could be delivered directly to his stomach. He was happy and liked to play with other children.

During Jason's lifetime, the Rimer home was frequently cluttered: the kitchen and bathrooms went days without being cleaned, the kitchen sink was often filled with dirty dishes, and the laundry room and bedrooms were normally piled with dirty clothing. There were also occasions where dog and bird excrement dirtied the carpet and remained there for days without being removed. Although the Rimers routinely hired housekeepers and carpet cleaners, the house and its carpets quickly became dirty again.

The clutter increased with the decline of Rimer's construction business and the financial slump that followed. Rimer closed his office and vacated his storage units and moved their contents into the house. The presence of construction tools and paint buckets in the house created obvious safety hazards. Although the Rimer family tried to reduce some of the clutter and generate revenue through yard sales, the house was extremely cluttered at the time of Jason's death: the household furniture had been moved or stacked for carpet cleaning, the kitchen sink was full of dirty dishes, and the fish tanks were green with algae.

The Rimer family continuously struggled with lice. The children were often sent home from school because they had head lice. Usually, they were treated with a lice-killing shampoo and sent back to school, where they were inspected by a nurse before being allowed back in the classroom. For a while, the children's grandmother contributed to this recurring problem by refusing to be treated for lice. There also came a time when the lice-killing shampoo was no longer strong enough to kill the lice, but Rimer was able to find a product online that solved the problem.

The Rimer family did not go hungry. They had refrigerators downstairs in the kitchen and upstairs in the master bedroom. And there were also cases of food in the garage and pallets of food in the living room.

They had frozen, refrigerated, canned, and dried food. The children routinely ate food that required little preparation or cooking, and when that sort of food ran out, they went upstairs and asked their parents for more. There was always food downstairs, but sometimes it was only the sort of food that required cooking and no one wanted to cook. Colleen did most of the cooking for the family. On one or two occasions, Quaylyn was punished by receiving only bread and water.

Rimer had a tiered approach to disciplining his children. First, he would place his children in a “timeout” by requiring them to stand in a corner for 5 to 30 minutes, then he would take away their video-game privileges, and finally he would spank them. But if a timeout was not severe enough for the level of misbehavior, the child might be sent to bed without dinner, and if the child's misbehavior involved fighting, the initial punishment might be a spanking.

Rimer spanked his children on their behinds with boat paddles, paint sticks, belts, and his bare hands. The number of spanks in a spanking could range from 1 to 50. Rimer had two wooden boat paddles: one was three to four feet long and the other was two to three feet long. He purchased the second paddle to replace the first paddle and drew shark's teeth on it with a permanent-ink marker. He broke both paddles while spanking his children and repaired them with duct tape. Rimer explained to his children what they did wrong and why they were getting spanked before he spanked them.

Rimer also struck his children. Crystal had seen her father strike Aaron, Quaylyn, Enoch, and Spencer on the chest, stomach, back, and arms for fighting, stealing, or displaying a bad attitude, and she had observed bruises on their arms. Quaylyn said that his father once punched him with a closed fist for misbehaving. Brandon testified that it was pretty common for his father to mete out discipline in anger and before he had calmed down. The worst word that Rimer's children recall him using was “damn,” but he sometimes asked his children if they were stupid when they had done something wrong, and he occasionally called Quaylyn “the devil.”

Child Protective Services (CPS) received reports accusing Rimer and Colleen of neglecting their children. Walter Hanna, a special education teacher, made several reports concerning Aaron. Aaron suffered from a severe learning disability and was assigned to Hanna's classroom. Hanna called CPS when Aaron came to school with body lice,1 without shoes, or without lunch money or a free-lunch form so that he could eat. Likewise, Nicole Atwell, a Nevada Early Intervention Services employee, reported her concerns about Jason. Atwell had previously warned Colleen that Jason should not be fed through his mouth because there was a danger that he might aspirate the food, which could lead to pneumonia

or feeding difficulties. When Atwell learned that Jason was being bottle-fed instead of being fed through his G-tube, she felt that Colleen's failure to heed her warning was medical neglect and reported that neglect to CPS.

CPS investigated these and other allegations of neglect and went to the Rimers' house on several occasions. Rimer told his children not to speak with CPS and even rewarded one his sons for refusing to speak to an investigator. He would not allow CPS investigators to go beyond the house's foyer or to speak with his children outside his presence. He also threatened the investigators and complained about their investigations to their supervisors and an assistant manager. Ultimately, CPS investigators concluded that the children were not neglected or at risk and closed the investigations.

Jason was cared for by his mother, brothers, and sister. They changed his diapers, they bathed him, and they fed him. Often, however, Jason's diapers were full and needed changing, the area around his G-tube

had not been adequately cleaned and was unsanitary, and his fingernails were dirty. Colleen suffered from adult-onset myotonic dystrophy, digestive tract ailments, and incontinence. She complained that she did not have the strength to lift Jason and stated that she relied upon her sons to get Jason in and out of the family vehicles. Nothing in the trial transcript indicates that Rimer had an active role in Jason's care.

On Sunday, June 8, 2008, Rimer brought Brandon, Aaron, Quaylyn, Enoch, and Spencer to church in his pickup truck. Rimer gave the opening prayer during the church service and then returned home alone. Colleen brought Jason to church in her Ford Excursion. She later brought Aaron, Quaylyn, Enoch, Spencer, and Jason home from church while Brandon remained behind to talk with the bishop about his upcoming church mission. Colleen and the children arrived home at 2:15 p.m. Colleen told Aaron to get Jason out of the Excursion, but neither she nor anyone else ensured that Jason was actually out of the...

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