APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 15-5805, DIVISION
"G" HONORABLE E. ADRIAN ADAMS, JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA Paul D.
Connick, Jr. Terry M. Boudreaux Gail D. Schlosser Matthew R.
Clauss Joshua K. Vanderhooft
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, TREVOR CLIFTON Lieu T. Vo
DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, TREVOR CLIFTON In Proper Person
composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Jude G.
Gravois, and Marc E. Johnson
FREDERICKA HOMBERG WICKER, JUDGE.
Trevor Clifton, appeals his convictions for sexual battery of
a juvenile in violation of La. R.S. 14:43.1 and his
subsequent adjudication and sentence as a multiple offender.
For the following reasons, we affirm defendant's
convictions but vacate his enhanced sentence as a multiple
offender under La. R.S. 15:529.1, and remand this matter to
the trial court for resentencing.
OF THE CASE
February 4, 2016, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney
filed a bill of information charging defendant, Trevor
Clifton, with one count of sexual battery of a juvenile under
the age of thirteen, in violation of La. R.S. 14:43.1 (count
one), and one count of sexual battery of a juvenile under the
age of fifteen, in violation of La. R.S. 14:43.1 (count two).
Defendant pled not guilty at his arraignment.
matter proceeded to trial and, on January 26, 2017, a
twelve-person jury found defendant guilty as charged. On
February 9, 2017, the trial court sentenced defendant to
sixty years imprisonment at hard labor, with the first
twenty-five years of the sentence to be served without
benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence on
count one and ten years imprisonment at hard labor to be
served without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of
sentence on count two. The trial court ordered
defendant's sentences to be served concurrently,
recommended defendant for participation in any self-help
programs available to him, and ordered that, upon completion
of his term of imprisonment, defendant be monitored by the
Department of Public Safety and Corrections through the use
of electronic monitoring equipment for the remainder of his
natural life. The trial court further ordered that defendant
register as a sex offender pursuant to La. R.S. 15:543.1 and
provided defendant with a written copy of the sex offender
notification requirements. On February 23, 2017, defendant
filed a motion to reconsider sentence.
State filed a multiple offender bill of information on count
one, alleging defendant to be a second felony offender, to
which defendant pled not guilty. On April 13, 2017, the trial
court conducted a hearing and adjudicated defendant a second
felony offender. The trial court vacated defendant's
sentence on count one and resentenced him, pursuant to La.
R.S. 15:529.1, to sixty years imprisonment at hard labor to
be served without benefit of probation or suspension of
sentence.After imposition of his enhanced sentence,
defendant orally "converted" his previously filed
motion to reconsider sentence to argue that the imposition of
his sixty-year enhanced sentence was excessive. The trial
court denied defendant's motion to reconsider. This
timely appeal follows.
victim, C.C.,  testified that in the early morning hours
of October 2, 2015, she was in her bedroom getting ready for
school. Upon exiting her room, C.C.'s "step-father,
" defendant, was standing in the hallway
waiting for her. C.C. recalled that defendant instructed her
to come over to him and to pull down her pants. He then
ordered her to get down on the ground on all fours at which
time he got down on his knees, pulled down his pants, and put
his penis inside her vagina. C.C. testified that her mother,
D.C., came out of her bedroom, saw defendant with her, and
began hitting him. C.C. recalled that defendant promised her
mother that he would go to church with her if she agreed not
to call the police and that he then attempted to hide the
phone before grabbing a knife and fleeing the house.
testified at trial that her encounter with defendant on
October 2, 2015, was not the first instance of sexual abuse
committed by defendant. She recalled other occasions, when
her mother was not at home, in which defendant would retrieve
her from her bedroom and instruct her to go out into the
hallway, pull down her pants, and "get on all
fours" on the floor. She testified that he would then
pull down his pants and put his penis in her "booty
between [her] legs." She further testified that at
night, while her mother was asleep, she would lock her
bedroom door and barricade it with toys but that defendant
would find a way in and would tell her to do "the same
thing" in the hallway. She recalled that when he would
"finish" he would "clean up" with a white
also told the jury that there were instances "a long
time ago" when defendant would pick her up from Bible
study and take her to an isolated location where he would
instruct her to pull down her pants at which time he would
get in front of her and "lay" his penis "in
front of -- in between [her] legs and he would, like, do
it." C.C. recalled an earlier incident when she
and defendant were at home and he touched her legs, which she
stated made her feel "scared, nervous, and
disgusting." There were also times, according to C.C.,
when defendant would instruct her to perform oral sex on him
and request that she "make noises." C.C. stated
that although she would not make the "noises"
requested of her, defendant would moan during the sexual
acts. C.C. testified defendant instructed her not to tell her
mother and that she was "scared and nervous" to
tell her mother or anyone else.
Troy, an expert family nurse practitioner with Children's
Hospital specializing in forensic nursing, including child
sexual abuse and delayed disclosure, testified at trial.
Nurse Troy explained for the jury that delayed disclosures in
sexual abuse cases involving children are very common due to
the often close relationship between the victim and the
perpetrator. She further explained it was common in sexual
abuse cases for children to present with "normal
bodies" upon examination. Nurse Troy testified that a
sexual abuse victim may disclose information gradually as the
child begins to feel more supported and that the details of
the victim's reports can vary depending on who the victim
is speaking to and the victim's level of comfort. Nurse
Troy further explained that it is not unusual for a child to
acquiesce to the sexual abuse because of his or her love for
the abuser and/or shock or fear at the time of the abuse.
Troy testified that she conducted a forensic examination on
C.C., who was fourteen years old at the time of the
examination on October 2, 2015. C.C.'s explanation of the
events to Nurse Troy corroborated C.C.'s trial testimony.
During her evaluation, C.C. told Nurse Troy that her
"stepdaddy" put his "private part in me."
She explained she was getting ready for school on October 2,
2015, when defendant knocked on her bedroom door. C.C. told
him "no leave me alone, " but defendant waited in
the hallway and proceeded to warn her that if she did not
come with him he was going to hurt her. C.C. followed
defendant's command, pulled down her pants, and got down
on her knees. She told Nurse Troy that defendant then pulled
down his pants and put "his private part" in her
"private part." C.C. further told Nurse Troy that
D.C. walked into the bathroom, saw what was going on, and
began crying and hitting defendant. She recalled that D.C.
told defendant she was going to call the police, and that
defendant told D.C. he was not going to "do it
again" and would start going to church.
the interview with Nurse Troy, C.C. initially denied any
prior sexual abuse, stating that she did not want to
"get in trouble" with her mom. After Nurse Troy
assured C.C. that she would not be in trouble, C.C. then
relayed other occasions of sexual abuse to Nurse Troy. C.C.
told Nurse Troy that, on other occasions, defendant would
come into her bedroom while she was sleeping, wake her up,
and tell her "you better come or I'm going to hurt
you." Defendant would then instruct her to go into the
hallway where he would "put his private part
inside" of her. C.C. recalled that her stomach hurt when
he did "those things" to her and that she also
feared that she would become pregnant.
told Nurse Troy that the first time defendant did
"something" to her was when she was "nine or
thirteen." She explained she was too scared to tell her
mother because defendant threatened to hurt her if she did
and that often times he was drunk when he came into her
bedroom. She stated that when her mother would leave the
house, she would ask if she could go to her grandmother's
house so that she did not have to be at home alone with
Nurse Troy's examination, a rape kit was collected with
no abnormal findings present. Testing for various sexually
transmitted diseases was also performed which resulted in
negative findings. Nurse Troy testified that normal physical
examinations are common in sex abuse cases. Nurse Troy
concluded that, in her expert opinion, C.C. was subjected to
sexual abuse and that there were no indications of
fabrication or coaching with respect to the reported abuse.
Bergeron, a forensic interviewer for the Children's
Advocacy Center ("CAC") in Jefferson Parish,
testified that she conducted a forensic interview with C.C.
on October 5, 2015. Concerning the October 2, 2015 abuse,
C.C. further recalled-as she testified to at trial-that,
after her mother discovered her and defendant having sex,
defendant grabbed a knife and threatened to kill himself if
D.C. contacted police.
reported other instances of abuse to Mrs. Bergeron. C.C. told
Mrs. Bergeron that defendant would pick her up from Bible
study and take her "somewhere else" with her
responding to defendant that she did not "want to do
that." C.C. further stated that on one occasion
defendant told her to rub his "private part" and
when she said no, he grabbed her hand and "made"
her "do it" by placing her hand on his
"private part." C.C. recalled on another occasion,
when she was thirteen, where defendant came into her room and
told her to lie down at which time he "put his private
part" inside her "in front." C.C. stated that,
in an effort to prevent defendant from entering her bedroom
during the night, she would take her sister's toys and
put them in front of her bedroom door.
mother, D.C., testified that she adopted C.C. shortly after
she was born on November 25, 2000, and that defendant-her
ex-boyfriend and father to her youngest biological child-was
born on March 20, 1979. She testified that defendant began
living with her in 2005 and that they moved into a new house
together in Gretna in 2008, when C.C. was eight years old.
D.C. testified that she ended her relationship with defendant
in April of 2015 when she discovered that she had contracted
a sexually transmitted disease which she believed she had
contracted from defendant. However, she permitted defendant
to continue living with her until he could make other living
arrangements but mandated that he sleep on the couch.
recalled that on October 2, 2015, she woke up at 6:21 a.m. to
discover a quiet house, which she found to be strange since
her daughter was supposed to be up and getting ready for
school. When D.C. walked down the hallway in search of C.C.,
she found C.C. and defendant "doing things." D.C.
testified that when defendant saw her, he jumped up and
turned away to "fix" himself. D.C. asked C.C. why
she did not tell her "what was going on" with
defendant to which C.C. replied, "Mama, I was
scared." D.C. testified that she and defendant began
fighting and that she instructed C.C. to call the police.
While C.C. called the police, defendant knocked the phone
from C.C.'s hand. Defendant begged D.C. not to report him
to the police because "he can't go to jail" and
told her, as he ran to the kitchen to retrieve a knife, that
he would rather kill himself than go to jail.D.C. testified
that, as police arrived, defendant fled out the back door.
also recalled that she noticed changes in her daughter at the
age of nine or ten years, at which time C.C.'s grades in
school began to decline and she would forget certain things
she had learned at a young age, such as how to tie her shoes.
Upon noticing these changes, D.C. sought help for her
daughter with her pediatrician who referred C.C. for
psychological evaluation. In 2011, when C.C. was eleven years
old, she was seen at the Jefferson Parish Human Services
Authority and was diagnosed with signs of depression,
depressed mood, diminished interest in pleasure, insomnia,
fatigue, loss of energy, and diminished ability to
further testified that, around that same time, she noticed
defendant began acting "mean" towards C.C. and
observed that C.C. avoided being around defendant by locking
herself in her bedroom and barricading her door at night.
D.C. testified that she eventually sat down with both C.C.
and defendant to figure out a solution to the obvious
hostility they displayed towards one another. D.C. testified
that, at that time, she attributed the hostility in
C.C.'s and defendant's relationship to the recent
birth of C.C.'s younger sibling-D.C.'s and
defendant's biological child.
told the jury that her daughter struggles with making friends
and does not care to leave the house. She further testified
that C.C., even though sixteen years old at the time of
trial, follows D.C. around everywhere and at times urinates
Joseph Hebert and Deputy Maya Seymour of the Jefferson Parish
Sheriff's Office testified that on October 2, 2015, they
responded to a "disturbance" call from the
victim's home in Westwego. Deputy Seymour spoke to
fourteen-year-old C.C., who was crying as she explained the
details of what had just occurred with defendant. Detective
Hebert observed that the back door of the residence was open,
and defendant could not be located. Based on her discussion
with C.C., Deputy Seymour placed ...