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State v. Martin

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

June 28, 2019


          Assigned on Briefs February 26, 2019

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 109463 G. Scott Green, Judge

         The Defendant, Anthony Martin, alias, appeals his jury conviction for rape of a child. In this direct appeal, the Defendant alleges that the trial court erred when it allowed the State to question him about facts underlying a statutory rape by an authority figure conviction as a prior inconsistent statement. Following our review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          J. Liddell Kirk (at motion for new trial and on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee; and Rhonda F. Lee (at trial), Powell, Tennessee, for the appellant, Anthony Martin, alias.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Courtney N. Orr, Assistant Attorney General; Charme P. Allen, District Attorney General; and Rachel D. Russell and Nathaniel R. Ogle, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Norma McGee Ogle, JJ., joined.


          D. KELLY THOMAS, JR., JUDGE.


         On November 30, 2016, a Knox County grand jury charged the Defendant via presentment with one count of rape of a child. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-522. The Defendant was alleged to have engaged in anal intercourse between July 30, 2013, and July 29, 2014, with the victim, S.C., [1] who was less than thirteen years of age at the time. The Defendant proceeded to a jury trial in November 2017.

         Prior to trial, the State had filed a notice pursuant to Tennessee Rule Evidence 609 seeking to cross-examine the Defendant, if he chose to testify, with his prior 2014 conviction for statutory rape by an authority figure, 2013 conviction for aggravated assault, and 2013 conviction for misdemeanor theft. On the morning of trial, the Defendant asked that the State not be allowed to impeach him with the statutory rape by an authority figure and aggravated assault convictions, arguing that their admission was "prejudicial." The State submitted that both offenses were within the ten-year time limit and argued that the statutory rape by an authority figure conviction was not "so prejudicial that it outweigh[ed] the probative value" because it was "not a rape or a rape of a child." The trial court observed, "Would the probative nature of that conviction, though, as to his credibility, outweigh the prejudicial effect? . . . [H]e's on trial for rape of a child . . . . I mean, I understand it's a felony conviction, but does the [c]ourt not have to go through that weighing process." The trial court then reserved ruling on the issue.

         At trial, the sixteen-year-old victim testified that he went to Whittle Springs Middle School during the sixth and seventh grades and that he met the Defendant's son there. The victim stated that, when he was twelve years old, he would go to the Defendant's house approximately two times per week and that he spent the night there more than ten times. The victim identified a photograph of the Defendant's Chipman Street home. In addition, the victim confirmed that the Defendant sent him text messages and called him on his cell phone during this time frame. The victim explained that his relationship with the Defendant "was good at the beginning and then it just went downhill from there."

         The Defendant had two other sons and one daughter; however, the victim was sometimes alone with the Defendant. According to the victim, when he spent the night at the Defendant's home, the Defendant "always" made him sleep in the bed with the Defendant and one of the Defendant's older sons, which made the victim "uncomfortable." The victim testified that the last time he spent the night at the Defendant's house was the night of "the incident."

         The victim recalled that, on that particular day, there was "snow on the ground." After the Defendant picked up the victim, the victim and the Defendant smoked marijuana in the car on the way to the Defendant's home. After arriving at the Defendant's home, the victim and the Defendant's sons played video games in the Defendant's bedroom while the Defendant was "[i]n the kitchen making chicken." According to the victim, they smoked more marijuana while playing video games, and the Defendant supplied them with vodka to drink. The victim also claimed that the Defendant gave him some blue pills to take, telling him that the pills would "make [him] feel better."

         The victim testified that all three of the Defendant's sons spent the night that evening and that everyone eventually went to sleep. According to the victim, the Defendant and one of his sons fell asleep in the Defendant's bedroom; the Defendant's other two sons fell asleep in the kitchen; and the victim fell asleep on the couch lying on his stomach. At some point, the victim was awakened by the Defendant on top of him pulling his pants down, and the victim could not move. The Defendant also removed his own clothing. According to the victim, he then felt something cold, wet, and slimy, which he thought was "lube[, ]" followed by a "very sharp pain." The victim described that the Defendant penetrated the victim's anus with his penis and that he moved in an "up-and-down movement" while doing so. The Defendant continued in that movement for about five minutes until he ejaculated. The victim said that he "felt paralyzed" and wondered, "When is it going to be over?" Neither the Defendant nor the victim said anything during the encounter.

         The victim testified that he could not see the Defendant because he was lying on his stomach. However, the victim was able to identify the Defendant by his hair because the Defendant was the only person in the house who had "long braids." The victim also saw the Defendant "get up" and "leave" after the incident. The victim observed the Defendant "walking back to his room," and he could "see the logo on [the Defendant's] pants." The victim testified that he fell back asleep with his pants still down around his ankles. When the victim woke up the following morning, his "stomach and [his] ass [were] hurting." After pulling up his pants, the victim went to the bathroom, and when he used the bathroom, he saw "like a reddish-clearish discharged coming out" of his anus. According to the victim, the Defendant took him home that morning, but they did not talk during the drive. The victim did not tell his parents about the incident because he "felt ashamed." The victim said that he never returned to the Defendant's home after that night. However, the Defendant continued to text him "a lot" asking him to come over, but the victim did not respond. According to the victim, his mother eventually confronted the Defendant about the text messages.

         Additionally, the victim claimed that he started having "real bad anger problems" after the encounter. The victim explained that he began having trouble with "[m]ale authority" figures and started using drugs and alcohol. The victim confirmed that he was "kicked out" of school and that he had to go to an "alternative school." The victim was also adjudicated delinquent in juvenile court for burglary, theft, and vandalism. The victim was ultimately sent to an alcohol and drug treatment program, and he was still on probation at the time of the Defendant's trial.

         While at the treatment program, the victim met a female who confided in him that she had been raped but did not know how to tell her parents. The victim promised her that, if she told her parents about her rape, he would likewise tell his parents about what had happened to him. That night, he told his parents. His parents contacted the police, and the victim was interviewed on March 30, 2016. The victim acknowledged that he did not tell the interviewer about any discharge coming from his anus. The victim's forensic interview was played in its entirety for the jury. However, the recording's admissibility was limited to assessing the victim's credibility "as corroborative or inconsistent proof."

         After the jury was dismissed for the day, there was further discussion about use of the Defendant's prior criminal record if he chose to testify. The trial court ruled that the State would be permitted to cross-examine the Defendant about his aggravated assault conviction. The trial court noted its reservation on admitting the Defendant's statutory rape by an authority figure conviction, stating that, when court resumed the following morning, it wanted details and specifics about that conviction and additional caselaw presented regarding its admission. The State then agreed not to ask the Defendant about the statutory rape by an authority figure conviction unless the Defendant "opened the door" to its admission during his testimony.

         When court resumed the following the morning, the victim's mother, S.B., [2]testified and confirmed much of the victim's account. S.B. stated that she knew the Defendant because the victim was friends with one of his sons when the victim was twelve years old and in the seventh grade. For a period of a "[c]ouple of months," the victim would sometimes spend the night at the Defendant's home, and the Defendant would normally pick him up for those visits. However, the victim eventually stopped going to the Defendant's house, but S.B. did not know why. According to S.B., the victim's behavior, attitude, and sleep habits changed about that same time.

         S.B. explained that the victim developed anger issues and started fighting in school. S.B. confirmed that the victim was arrested when he was in seventh grade and that he was eventually kicked out of school towards the end of his seventh-grade year and placed in an alternative school. S.B. asserted that, prior to this time period, the victim had never expressed any anger issues and had never gotten into serious trouble. According to S.B., the victim expressed a lot of anger toward males, but especially "males with dreads." S.B. recalled a particular time when they were inside a convenience store "and a male with dreads came in and [the victim] got real close to [her] and crunched up[, ] and [she] had to remind him that . . . it was okay." In addition, S.B. described that the victim would wake up "in the middle of the night, just kind of roaming the house, just sitting there." She thought the victim only got about three or four hours of sleep a night. Moreover, the victim insisted that his bedroom door be locked whenever he was trying to sleep. S.B. maintained that the victim also started having issues with drugs and alcohol and that the victim was ultimately given "sleeping medication" and "a mood stabilizer." According to S.B., "outpatient rehab" was unsuccessful, so they had to place the victim in an "inpatient rehab."

         S.B. recalled that, at some point, she spoke with the Defendant about various text messages he had sent the victim, although S.B. could not recall exactly what she said to the Defendant. She remembered that she was "[v]ery angry" and "confused" during this conversation "because of the substance of those text messages[.]" However, S.B. did not call the police at that time because, while the text messages were "inappropriate," they did not indicate "that anything sexual had happened between" the victim and the Defendant. S.B. explained that the victim was in an inpatient drug rehabilitation program in 2016 and that was when he told her specifically for the first time that the Defendant had raped him. S.B. immediately reported the rape allegation to the Family Justice Center, and the victim was interviewed at Child Help by a child forensic interviewer. S.B. believed that the conversation she had with the Defendant about the text messages occurred approximately a year and a half to two years prior to the victim's 2016 revelation.

         Jonathan Harris testified that he was assigned to the Knoxville Police Department's Special Crimes Unit and that he investigated the rape allegation against the Defendant. Officer Harris maintained that he was unable to locate any of the Defendant's sons. Moreover, Officer Harris was shown the photograph of the Defendant's home that was identified by the victim, and Officer Harris confirmed that the house was located on Chipman Street in Knoxville.

         During a jury-out discussion, the Defendant expressed his desire to testify on his behalf. The State noted that it would only ask the Defendant about his theft and aggravated assault convictions and that it would not ask him about his statutory rape by an authority figure conviction unless he opened the door somehow. The trial court agreed with the State's strategy, noting,

Obviously, if he opens up the door, you know, if he makes some assertion like, I would never, ever have sex with someone under age, he's opened the door up to that question. But absent that, the State has agreed that his aggravated assault conviction is fair game. I mean, you've already told the jury he's a convicted felon[.]

         Trial resumed, and the forty-one-year-old Defendant testified that he was married with three children, although he lived separately from his wife. The Defendant confirmed that the victim and his son were friends through school and that the victim had spent the night at his home "over ten times" during a four- to five-month period. The Defendant claimed that he first met the victim after his son told him that the victim had been "fighting the police at school" and how he had been "acting out." According to the Defendant, the victim told him that he had anger issues, and the Defendant instructed the victim not to "do bad things" or "disrespect authority figures." The Defendant claimed that he was trying "to steer [the victim] in the right direction."

         The Defendant denied ever giving the victim marijuana, alcohol, or pills, and he denied having any sexual contact with the victim. The Defendant testified that no one was ever allowed to sleep on his couch. According to the Defendant, his sons slept on the bottom bunk of the bunk beds in their room when the victim spent the night, and the victim slept on the top bunk. The Defendant asserted that the victim never slept with him in his bed, although on one occasion the victim fell asleep in the Defendant's bedroom after playing video games. However, he maintained that he woke the victim and ...

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