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State v. Gossett

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

March 29, 2018

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
DWIGHT GOSSETT

          Assigned on Briefs December 5, 2017

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 12-01774 Lee V. Coffee, Judge

         The Defendant, Dwight Gossett, was convicted in the Shelby County Criminal Court of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony, and sentenced by the trial court to twelve years at 100% in the Department of Correction. The sole issue he raises on appeal is whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain his conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Monica A. Timmerman, Bartlett, Tennessee (on appeal); and Lauren Pasley, Memphis, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Dwight Gossett.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Carrie Shelton and Bryce H. Phillips, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE

         FACTS

         On September 2, 2010, eight-year-old A.R.[1] and her six-year-old sister, A.C.R., reported to their mother that the Defendant, their stepgrandfather at the time, had touched them inappropriately during visits to their grandmother's home. Following an investigation, the Defendant was indicted for two counts of aggravated sexual battery, with one count based on his behavior with A.R. and the second count based on his behavior with A.C.R. In 2013, he was tried before a Shelby County Criminal Court jury, convicted of both counts, and sentenced by the trial court to an effective term of twenty-four years in the Department of Correction at 100% release eligibility. State v. Dwight Gossett, No. W2013-01120-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 6609353, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 21, 2014). On direct appeal, this court reversed the convictions and remanded for a new trial on the basis that the trial court improperly admitted thirty-plus-year-old evidence of the Defendant's alleged sexual relationship with a former minor stepdaughter, and the prosecutor engaged in improper closing argument by suggesting that a conviction would provide justice not only for A.R. and A.C.R. but also for the Defendant's former stepdaughter. Id. at *9-10, *17. At the conclusion of the Defendant's second trial, the jury convicted him of the count involving A.C.R. and acquitted him of the count involving A.R.

         At the February 2016 retrial, Lieutenant Carl J. Ray of the Memphis Police Department, who was an Investigative Sergeant at the Child Advocacy Center in September 2010, identified the Defendant's September 16, 2010 signed waiver of rights and written statement, which were admitted as exhibits and published to the jury. Lieutenant Ray testified that he did not provide any specifics of the allegations during his interview with the Defendant. The statement reflects that when Lieutenant Ray asked the Defendant to tell him in his own words what had occurred to bring about the girls' allegations, the Defendant replied:

Prior to this I only heard about [A.C.R.] There was an incident several months ago. I can't tell you exactly when. I was changing my shirt in my room and she would not leave. She started bragging about what she has seen on other males including full exposure of the genitals and touching. I said, "Mean like this, " and I touch my belt buckle with her hand and that was about -- I'm pretty sure I left something out[.] There was a shock look on her face, looking surprised that I called her on her bragging. From that point on, I never had a problem getting her out of my room.

         Elsewhere in the statement, the Defendant denied that he had pulled down his boxer shorts and exposed himself to A.C.R. and A.R. while instructing A.R. to touch his penis, that he kissed A.R. on the breasts, or that he inappropriately touched either child. The Defendant explained that he could have inadvertently touched the victims' breast areas while picking them up because they were small children and he had large hands.

          On cross-examination, Lieutenant Ray acknowledged that the Defendant voluntarily came to the sex ...


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