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State v. Walton

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

May 12, 2015


Assigned on Briefs March 11, 2015

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Robertson County No. 2013-CR-132 Michael R. Jones, Judge

Roger E. Nell, District Public Defender; Rosemary Thomas, Assistant District Public Defender (on appeal); and Collier W. Goodlett, Assistant District Public Defender (at trial), Springfield, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Julius Wiel Walton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael M. Stahl, Assistant Attorney General; John W. Carney, District Attorney General; and Jason White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr. and Roger A. Page, JJ., joined.



On the evening of December 24, 2012, the victim, S.W., [1] was at her grandparents' house to celebrate Christmas Eve. It was a family tradition to celebrate the holiday at her grandparents' house, and other family members were present that night, including her father. The victim testified that she had visited her grandparents' home on many occasions and regularly spent the night with her grandmother when her father was traveling for work. She explained that her grandparents did not share a bedroom, and although she had a "good relationship" with her grandfather, the Defendant in this case, she did not talk with him often.

On the night of the incident, the family ate dinner together and then opened presents. After opening presents, "everybody was sitting in the living room talking and laughing and hanging out." The victim was sitting with her grandmother when she noticed the Defendant across the living room. He motioned to her to come over to him, and when she complied, he told her "he had to show [her] a surprise, " and led her to his bedroom. She testified that no one else was in the bedroom and that the Defendant opened the top drawer of his dresser and pulled out a photograph of the victim. The photograph was several years old and had been enlarged to an eight by ten size. The victim testified that after the Defendant showed her the photograph, he "started talking about how pretty [she] was" and told her that he would like to marry her. He stated that "he especially likes it when he gets to hold [her], " and proceeded to "hug" her. He attempted to kiss the victim, but she turned her head so he kissed her on the cheek. He told her that she "was going to have to do better than that, " and then "tongue kissed" her and "groped" one of her breasts over her clothes. The victim testified that the kiss lasted "about three seconds" and that the Defendant stroked her breast "the time of the kiss." The victim testified that she was "kind of terrified" and "wanted to get out of there." She pulled away from the Defendant, and he told her, "I was just playing with you. I was just messing."

After the incident, the victim returned to the living room and asked her father if they could leave. She did not say anything about the incident to anyone because she "didn't want to ruin everybody's Christmas[.]" When she and her father arrived home, she "got really emotional" and told her father what happened. Her father reported the incident to the police later that evening, and she gave a statement at the Child Advocacy Center several days later. The victim identified the Defendant in court as the man who kissed her and stroked her breast on Christmas Eve 2012.

The Defendant testified on his own behalf at trial. He testified that he asked the victim to follow him to his bedroom because he had an eight by ten photograph of her that he wanted to give to her father. He testified that while she was in his bedroom, he hugged her and gave her a "grandkid kiss, " but he denied sticking his tongue in her mouth or touching her breast. He agreed that he touched the fabric on her dress near her collar bone, explaining:

She had on a dress that had a thing across up here [near her collar bone] . . . [and] I asked her, I said what is that honey? And she said it's leather. I said no, baby, it don't look like leather. And so I just over and touched it . . . with one finger and I said it's not leather, baby. It's vinyl.

The Defendant also agreed that he complimented the victim on her appearance, stating, "[A]ll my granddaughters I compliment because most of the time they dress and look very decent and noble." However, he denied telling the victim that he wanted to marry her.

Following deliberations, the jury convicted the Defendant of sexual battery as charged in the indictment. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to two years' supervised probation and ordered him to undergo a sex offender evaluation and register on the Sex Offender Registry. On May 5, 2014, the Defendant filed a motion for new ...

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