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State v. Norton

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

June 29, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
DEANGELO NORTON

          Assigned on Briefs May 2, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 15-00754 J. Robert Carter, Jr., Judge

         A Shelby County Grand Jury returned a two-count indictment charging the Defendant, Deangelo Norton, with rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery. Pursuant to Rule 412 of the Tennessee Rules of Evidence, prior to trial the Defendant filed a notice of his intent to introduce evidence at trial of the child victim's knowledge of sexual matters. The trial court held a pretrial evidentiary hearing on the subject and denied the request, finding the proposed testimony to be irrelevant. A jury trial followed, and the Defendant was convicted of both counts. The trial court merged the convictions and sentenced the Defendant to twenty-five years at 100%. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his request to introduce evidence and that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his convictions. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal Court Affirmed

          Stephen C. Bush, Shelby County Public Defender; Barry W. Kuhn (on appeal) and Thomas Leith and Katherine Oberembt (at trial), Assistant Shelby County Public Defenders, for the appellant, Deangelo Norton.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Joshua N. Corman and Abby Odom, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert L. Holloway, Jr., J., joined. J. Ross Dyer, J., Not Participating.

          OPINION

          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE

         FACTS

         The victim, who was seven years old at the time of the offenses, lived in an apartment in Memphis with his parents and younger sister. During 2011 and 2012, the Defendant, the victim's uncle, occasionally babysat the victim and his sister. On August 23, 2012, the victim's mother received a disturbing telephone call at work from her mother, so she went home to speak with the victim. She asked the victim, "Ha[s] [the Defendant] ever d[one] anything to you? Ha[s] he ever touched you?" The victim began to cry and appeared nervous. After being reassured by his mother that he would not get in trouble, the victim confirmed that the Defendant had touched him inappropriately. In response, she promised the victim he would never see the Defendant again.

         The victim testified that he felt scared when he told his mother about the sexual abuse and offered this summation of the first occurrence:

[The Defendant] took me in my room, told me not to tell anyone. He put me on my bed. He stuck his peewee in my butt and . . . [w]e went into the hallway, he put his thing in my mouth and told me not to let anyone else do it to me.

         The victim said that the Defendant had "touched [him] more than one time on [his] butt" and that the last incident took place shortly before his mother asked him about the abuse.

         On August 24, 2012, the day after the victim disclosed the sexual abuse to his mother, she took the victim to Christ Community Health Services where Dr. Elizabeth Elliott treated him and noted the reason for his visit as follows:

[The victim] is brought in today by his mother due to concern for possible abuse. [The victim] reports that [the Defendant] used to hurt him when the [Defendant] was keeping him and his sister while his mom was at work. He says that the [Defendant] would place his boy part in [the victim's] mouth and also in his butt. He cannot tell me the last time that it happened. Tells ...

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