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State v. Davis

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

March 26, 2018


          Assigned on Briefs December 13, 2017

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Montgomery County No. 2015-CR-611 William R. Goodman, III, Judge

         Following a bench trial, the Defendant-Appellant, Adam Davis, was convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-504. The trial court sentenced him as a Range I, standard offender to a concurrent term of eight years' imprisonment. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence is sufficient to support his convictions. After a thorough review of the record and briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

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

          Roger E. Nell, District Public Defender, Clarksville, Tennessee (on appeal) and Crystal L. Myers, Assistant Public Defender, Clarksville, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Adam Davis.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jonathan H. Wardle, Assistant Attorney General; John W. Carney, District Attorney General; and Kimberly Lund, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.



         The Defendant was indicted on several counts of aggravated sexual battery and rape of a child for forcing the victim, A.T., his girlfriend's six-year-old daughter, to engage in various sexual acts including oral-oral contact, penile-oral contact, and penile-digital contact from April to December 2014.[1] At trial, the victim's mother testified that she met the Defendant in high school and lived with him from October 2011 to January 2015. In April 2014, they lived together in a home on Oak Park Court in Clarksville, Tennessee. The victim and her brother had their own rooms, and the Defendant and the victim's mother shared a room. The victim's mother observed the Defendant's behavior around the victim and described it as normal. During the offense timeframe, the victim's mother worked long hours, and the Defendant watched the children for her. The victim's mother recalled that sometimes the victim would cry when she left for work.

         The victim's mother explained that the children acknowledged privacy in their home, went into their own rooms to change clothes, and closed the doors when changing or showering. The children never observed her and the Defendant engaged in sexual activity. Although she had not yet had the "birds and bees" conversation with the victim, the topic of appropriate and inappropriate touching was discussed in school. The victim's mother reviewed the materials sent home by the school and ensured the victim understood them.

         After the victim told her mother about the Defendant's sexual abuse, the victim's mother called and confronted the Defendant, who denied everything. The victim's mother testified that she did not return home that day. However, because of their financial connection, she maintained a brief relationship with the Defendant. The Defendant gave the victim's mother rides to and from work during which he tried to convince her of his innocence. Finally, the victim's mother confirmed that she never told the victim what to say during this process.

         On cross-examination, the victim's mother said the victim was not having trouble in school in April 2014. She also confirmed that prior to April 2014, they lived with the Defendant's mother and shared one room with the children. Although the Defendant had back surgery in May 2014, he was able to take care of the children. However, the victim's mother bathed the children exclusively, except on one or two occasions. When she confronted the Defendant with the victim's allegations, he provided the following explanations: (1) "[the victim] probably overheard some noises from our bedroom and then had a bad dream"; (2) "[the victim's mother] shouldn't throw away [their] relationship when it's going to come out in a few days that [the victim] lied and then [they] won't be able to reverse the damage from this"; (3) "[the victim's] been very upset when [the victim's mother has] to work nights and it was only a matter of time before [the victim] came up with something to say and try to get [the victim's mother] to stay home"; and (4) "[h]ow silly this all was and how [the victim's mother knew] what kind of person he is. [She knew] he could never do anything like that."

         The victim's mother also confirmed that she sent the following text message to the Defendant's mother:

Yes, ma'am, I understand. I told [the Defendant] I don't feel 100 percent that he did it, but . . . thoughts kept crossing my mind and I can't turn it off, no matter what he says. And we can't keep a relationship going like that.
I will still call the De[t]ective on Monday, and let him know I'm questioning her version of everything also. I don't want this to end badly for him no matter what happens.

         The Defendant later helped the victim's mother purchase a car, which she felt "he owed [them], after everything that [they] had gone through." Even though the victim's mother briefly continued her relationship with the Defendant, she believed her daughter.

         The minor victim was nine years old at the time of trial and six to seven years old at the time of the offenses. Without objection, she testified at trial and promised to tell the truth during her testimony. With the aid of a girl diagram, the victim identified the body parts that no one is supposed to touch. She then marked an X on the lips, belly, genitalia, and buttocks to illustrate where the Defendant inappropriately touched her. On a boy diagram, she marked an X on the lips, belly, genitalia, and buttocks to illustrate the body parts with which the Defendant inappropriately touched her. These diagrams were admitted into evidence as exhibits 1 and 2, respectively.

         The victim told her mother what the Defendant did to her because she "did not want to do that anymore." She testified that she spoke with "a lady" about the abuse, identified a digital versatile disk (DVD) of her interview, and confirmed that everything she said in the DVD was true. The DVD of the forensic interview was then admitted into evidence, without objection, as exhibit 3, and played for the court. The DVD showed that on January 20, 2015, the victim was interviewed at Our Kids concerning allegations of child sexual abuse.[2] The DVD began with the interviewer asking the victim some preliminary questions including: "What were her favorite board games?"; "Who were her brother and sister?"; and "What she did the previous weekend?".[3] The interviewer then asked to talk with the victim about "why [she] had to come here?". In response, the victim told the interviewer that the Defendant was "doing bad things" to her, "like the private ...

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