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State v. Tillery

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

December 16, 2014




Panel composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Marc E. Johnson, and Hans J. Liljeberg


Defendant, Darrell Tillery, seeks review of one of his convictions for aggravated rape from the 24th Judicial District Court, Division "E". For the following reasons, we affirm Defendant's conviction and sentence. Additionally, we remand the matter for correction of the commitment order.


On June 7, 2012, a Jefferson Parish Grand Jury indicted Defendant with one count of aggravated rape of a known juvenile (B.S.), [1] a violation of La. R.S. 14:42 (count one), and one count of sexual battery of the same juvenile, a violation of La. R.S. 14:43.1 (count two). Defendant was arraigned on June 8, 2012, and pleaded not guilty.

On November 15, 2012, Defendant was charged by a superseding indictment with the two previous counts of aggravated rape and sexual battery of B.S. and two additional counts of aggravated rape (counts three and four) of two separate juveniles (K.W. and D.I.).

After jury selection on November 19, 2013, the court was informed that Defendant had not been arraigned on the superseding indictment. Defendant waived the reading of the superseding indictment and entered a plea of not guilty to all counts. Trial commenced before a 12-person jury with the reading of the superseding indictment and Defendant's not guilty pleas to the charged offenses.

On November 20, 2013, after the presentation of nine out often of the State's witnesses, the State made an oral motion to amend the dates of the offense on count three of the indictment. The State's oral motion to amend the indictment was granted, and Defendant's motion for mistrial was denied.

At trial, K.W., the victim in count four, testified that Defendant was married to her mother from 1987 to 1990. During that time, K.W. was between the ages of six and nine. K.W. testified that when Defendant was living with them he would enter her bedroom at night, remove her brother from the room they shared, undress her, touch her vagina, and have sex with her. Defendant would then warn her not to tell her mother. As a child, K.W. never told anyone about the sexual abuse, but eventually informed her husband in an attempt to explain her "strange and weird" behavior. K.W. explained that she would jump when her husband touched her. K.W. further testified that at some point after informing her husband, her brother told their mother about the sexual abuse, although K.W. testified that she was unaware at the time that her brother knew about it. According to K. W., her mother stated that she did not know about the sexual abuse by Defendant.

In 2012, K.W. was contacted by a close family friend, D.I. (the victim in count three). D.I. asked her if she had seen the Times Picayune newspaper article about Defendant's arrest on charges of molestation. At the time, she had not seen the article; however, after reading it, K.W. contacted the Jefferson Parish Sheriffs Office and provided a statement to them regarding the sexual abuse.

K.W.'s brother, R.S., testified that as a child he recalled entering the bedroom he shared with his sister and seeing K.W. on the bed, undressed from the waist down, and Defendant at the foot of the bed, on top of her. R.S. left the room quickly because he knew that he saw something he "wasn't supposed to see." Defendant then exited the bedroom a short time later, hit R.S. on the head and told him he "didn't see nothing." At the time R.S. did not talk to his sister or his mother about the incident; however, at some point after K.W. told their mother, R.S. informed them of what he witnessed.

D.I. testified that her mother dated Defendant's brother in 1992. At some point, Defendant lived with them while her mother and Defendant's brother were dating. During that time, Defendant would take her out of her bed when everyone was sleeping, bring her into his room, and have sex with her while she was pinned down as he covered her mouth. After he was done having sex with her, he would give her a dollar and tell her not to tell anyone. D.I. testified that she tried telling her mother about the sexual abuse, but her mother did not believe her. D.I. also told her great-grandmother who then had D.I.'s grandmother remove D.I. from her mother's home to live with her. D.I. first reported Defendant to the police after she saw the newspaper article about his arrest. She testified that she gave a statement to the police and later forwarded the newspaper article to K.W. On cross-examination, D.I. clarified that she told the police the abuse took place on and off while Defendant was living with them in 1994, and that she was seven or eight years old at the time.[2]

B.S., the victim in counts one and two, testified that her mother was in a relationship with Defendant for approximately ten years. She further testified that she was four years old when Defendant first had sex with her. She stated that Defendant had sex with her more than 20 times. Defendant would tell B.S. "they have crazy people in this world, why would you want to have sex with them when you can have sex with me." He also told B.S. not to tell her mother because he would go to jail. In 2003, when B.S. was ten years old she reported the incidences of rape to her mother, who began to cry. The next day she wrote a letter to her mother recanting her allegations because it "broke her heart" to see her mother "hurting and crying." B.S. testified that she tried to stop Defendant from raping her, but he would still force himself on her stating "this is the last time." The abuse continued until Defendant moved out when B.S. was 14 years old.

B.S. now receives therapy and is on medication for Depressive Traumatic Stress Disorder. B.S. testified that when she was in high school she had a "mental breakdown" and eventually reported the incidences of rape to her cousin and her sister who then told B.S.'s mother.[3] B.S.'s mother questioned B.S. about the abuse and they then reported Defendant to the police in 2011.

B.S.'s mother, S.S., testified that she was in a relationship with Defendant between 1997 and 2005. Defendant lived with her and her daughter during that time. S.S. testified that she and Defendant separated in 2005, but that he would still come over to her house. She further testified that in 2003 B.S. told her about the sexual abuse and that she broke down when hearing about it. Defendant was present at the time and denied sexually abusing B.S. The next day, B.S. wrote a note to her mother recanting the allegations. S.S. testified that she felt relieved because she wanted to believe it was not true. A couple of years later, S.S. called the police to report the sexual abuse when her eldest daughter, R.S., informed her that Defendant molested B.S.

Dr. Neha Mehta testified as an expert in the field of child sexual abuse. She explained to the jury various concepts seen in cases of child sexual abuse including grooming, delayed disclosure, recantation, and the reasons for the lack of physical evidence of abuse in most cases. Dr. Mehta further testified that in over 95% of the cases where children are sexually abused, the sexual abuse is committed by a relative or close friend.

Detective Robert Miles of the Jefferson Parish Sheriffs Office testified that pursuant to the interviews he conducted with B.S. and her mother, he authored a warrant for Defendant's arrest. After Defendant was indicted by a Grand Jury, Detective Miles was notified that two other victims, D.I. and K.W., also came forward to report sexual abuse by Defendant.

On cross-examination, Detective Miles identified D.I.'s statement in which it referenced 1994 as the year Defendant lived with D.I. and the year the incidences of rape occurred, despite the detective's mistaken belief that it occurred in 1992.

The State rested and the defense called Darremika Tillery, Defendant's daughter. Ms. Tillery testified that she spent the weekends with her father when he was dating B.S.'s mother.[4] Ms. Tillery stated that on the weekends she shared a bedroom with B.S., and that during that time, she never witnessed her father come into the bedroom.

Lastly, Defendant testified as to the dates he lived with each of the three victims. Defendant stated that he was married to K.S.'s mother from 1987 to 1991, and that K.S. was five or six years old at the time they were married. He further testified that he then lived with B.S.'s mother from 1997 to 2004, and that B.S. was three years old at the time. Defendant then stated that when his brother dated D.I.'s mother, he lived with them for a few months; however, he could not recall the dates. Defendant denied having sexual intercourse with any of the victims, denied raping them, denied touching them inappropriately, and denied having any sexual desire for a child.

At the conclusion of the trial, the jury returned verdicts of guilty as charged on all four counts. On November 26, 2013, Defendant filed a motion for new trial, which was denied by the trial court prior to sentencing. After waiving sentencing delays, the trial court sentenced Defendant to three consecutive life sentences on counts one, three, and four and to ten years imprisonment at hard labor on count two, to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed on count one. Defendant's life sentences were ordered to be served without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Defendant was further advised of the sex offender reporting requirements and ...

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