State v. McFarlin, 2348

CourtSupreme Court of Arizona
Citation110 Ariz. 225,517 P.2d 87
Docket NumberNo. 2348,2348
PartiesSTATE of Arizona, Appellee, v. Thomas Jude McFARLIN, Appellant.
Decision Date20 December 1973

Gary K. Nelson, Atty. Gen., by William P. Dixon, Asst. Atty. Gen., Phoenix, Charles C. Hall, Law Student, Tucson, for appellee.

David M. Lurie, Phoenix, for appellant.

HOLOHAN, Justice.

Thomas Judge McFarlin was convicted of child molesting after a trial by jury. He was sentenced to a term of 10 to 15 years in the state prison.

The incident of child molestation on which the conviction was based was shown by the evidence to have occurred when the defendant invited a young boy into his house, showed him pictures of nude women, and then molested him.

In addition to the incident upon which the defendant was actually charged, the State, over the objection of the defense, was permitted to introduce in evidence other acts of child molestation committed by the defendant. The evidence by the State showed four other incidents of molesting which took place both before and after July 26, 1970, the date of the offense charged. These additional acts of molestation took place during the period May 1970 and July 27, 1970.

The evidence of the incidents of child molesting other than that charged in the information were offered by the State to show that the defendant had a specific emotional propensity for sexual aberration. The prosecutor did not contend that the other acts of perversion were part of any plan, scheme or design, and the theory of the case by the State was that such additional acts were relevant evidence from which the jury could infer that the defendant had a specific emotional propensity for sexual aberration and that that was a factor to be considered in their determination of whether or not the defendant did in fact commit the act charged.

The defendant by this appeal raises essentially three questions: (1) Was it error to admit into evidence other acts of child molesting for the purpose of showing sexual propensity or sexual aberration? (2) Was it error for the trial court to fail to give a cautionary instruction as to the purpose for admission of the other alleged acts of child molesting? And (3) Was the defendant under all circumstances in the case given a fair trial?

The issue of whether other acts of sexual misconduct should be admitted in evidence in the prosecution of a defendant for a sex offense is a matter of considerable controversy among the state court jurisdictions. The admission of such evidence has been criticized by authorities in the field of evidence. For a good discussion of the issues involved in the admission of such evidence and citations to a number of the articles on the subject, see 6 Arizona Law Review 212, Other Acts of Sexual Misbehavior or Perversion as Evidence in Prosecutions for Sexual Offenses, by James M. H. Gregg.

The course of the decisions in this jurisdiction has not been consistent in the determination of the basis for the admission of such other acts of perversion. Starting with Taylor v. State, 55 Ariz. 13, 97 P.2d 543 (1940), this Court, in a statutory rape case, followed the general rule that evidence of similar crimes was not admissible subject, however, to the exception that evidence of similar crimes was admissible to show a system, plan or scheme to commit such crimes. The exception is one of the several recognized generally by both state and federal jurisdictions. II Wigmore on Evidence, 3rd Ed. § 304. In Taylor this Court quoted from the Kansas case of State v. Jenks, 126 Kan. 493, 268 P. 850 (1928) which held that other acts of intercourse were admissible in a statutory rape case to show the lustful disposition of the defendant and the system employed in committing the act. Kansas had adopted the 'lustful disposition' exception in 1926, in State v. Bisagno, 121 Kan. 186, 246 P. 1001. In State v. McDaniel, 80 Ariz. 381, 298 P.2d 798 (1956), the Court permitted the admission of evidence of acts of a similar nature in a prosecution for fellatio, the additional acts being similar to that charged. This Court held that the evidence of other acts was admissible as showing a plan or system or modus operandi on the part of the defendant, but the Court also stated that there was an additional relevancy to such evidence, that of showing the accused's specific emotional propensity. Bracey v. United States, 79 U.S.App.D.C. 23, 142 F.2d 85 (1944) was cited as authority for the proposition. Some three years later in State v. Finley, 85 Ariz. 327, 338 P.2d 790 (1959), this Court, in a rape case, had occasion to again make reference to the admission of prior sexual offenses as admissible to showing the 'lustful propensities' of the defendant to commit such a crime. In 1967 in State v. Phillips, 102 Ariz. 377, 430 P.2d 139, this Court again upheld the admission of other acts of sexual misconduct to be shown in a prosecution for fellatio. The Court pointed out that in the area of unusual sex offenses a specific exception to the general rule of exclusion of evidence of another crime was present and such other crimes were admissible to show an emotional propensity for sexual aberration. This rule was followed by the Court of Appeals in State v. Smallwood, 7 Ariz.App. 266, 438 P.2d 335 (1968).

The course of the rule changed in 1968 with State v. Gibson, 103 Ariz. 428, 443 P.2d 424 (1968). The author of the opinion in Gibson had filed a dissent in State v. Finley, Supra, challenging the reasoning in that case. The Court in Gibson qualified the language of Finley:

'Any language in the Finley case implying that prior unrelated criminal acts might be shown to establish criminal propensity is specifically disapproved.' 103 Ariz. at 430, 443 P.2d at 426.

In State v. Goldsmith, 104 Ariz. 226, 450 P.2d 684 (1969), a child molesting case, the Court again had occasion to make reference to the rule in State v. McDaniel, Supra, and the Court held that the emotional propensity rule was to be coupled with the requirement that the prior acts must tend to show a system, plan or scheme where the commission of two or more crimes are so related to each other that the proof of one tends to establish the other. In State v. Parker, 106 Ariz. 54, 470 P.2d 461 (1970), the holding of the Court remained consistent with the position stated in Goldsmith. This Court again adhered to the proposition that in a child molesting case the additional acts would have to be found to qualify as part of a system, plan or scheme. The following year, however, in State v. Godsoe, 107 Ariz. 367, 489 P.2d 4 (1971) in a child molesting case this Court, without reference to either the Goldsmith or Parker cases, found no error in a jury instruction which stated that evidence of other similar sexual offenses indicating a propensity for sexual molestation or sexual aberration in respect to young girls might be considered by the jury together with all other evidence in the case as bearing on the question of whether in fact the defendant committed the act charged. There was no dissent by any member of the Court to the foregoing holding. Finally, last year, in State v. Finley, 108 Ariz. 420, 501 P.2d 4 (1972) the Court in a statutory rape and molestation case held that the admission of prior specific bad acts was permissible because the evidence showed a system, plan or scheme by the defendant to engage in sexual aberration. The decisions of this Court have caused some confusion, and they certainly have not been consistent. Prior bad acts are admissible as an exception to the general rule where such acts show a plan, scheme or device. II Wigmore...

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  • State v. Kulmac, s. 14792
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • July 5, 1994
    ...rather than distorting, in sexual misconduct cases, the common plan exception or the other exceptions. See, e.g., State v. McFarlin, 110 Ariz. 225, 228, 517 P.2d 87 (1973) (creating an "emotional propensity" exception for cases involving sexual aberration, such as child molestation); Bracke......
  • State v. Roscoe, CR-93-0278-AP
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arizona
    • February 1, 1996
    ...propensity to commit a similar crime. State ex rel. LaSota v. Corcoran, 119 Ariz. 573, 583 P.2d 229 (1978); State v. McFarlin, 110 Ariz. 225, 517 P.2d 87 (1973). Sexual assaults on a minor of the type presented in this case are always considered aberrant. McFarlin, 110 Ariz. at 228, 517 P.2......
  • State v. Ploof, 2 CA-CR 2005-0137.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • July 31, 2006
    ...time to the offense charged as evidence of the accused's propensity to commit such perverted acts."' Id. ¶ 11, quoting State v. McFarlin, 110 Ariz. 225, 228, 517 P.2d 87, 90 ¶ 20 Finally, as we have noted, the other acts evidence indicates an escalation in Ploof's aberrant sexual conduct ag......
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    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arizona
    • December 28, 1984 emotional propensity for sexual aberration. State ex rel. LaSota v. Corcoran, 119 Ariz. 573, 583 P.2d 229 (1978); State v. McFarlin, 110 Ariz. 225, 517 P.2d 87 (1973). In the case at bench the prosecution offered the evidence both to prove emotional propensity and to prove identity by ......
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