Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Clifton

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

May 23, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
TREVOR CLIFTON

          ON 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 Clark

          DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, TREVOR CLIFTON In Proper Person

          Panel composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Jude G. Gravois, and Marc E. Johnson

          FREDERICKA HOMBERG WICKER, JUDGE.

         Defendant, 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.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         On 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.

         The 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.

         The 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.[1]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.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The victim, C.C., [2] 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, "[3] 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.

         C.C. 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 towel.[4]

         C.C. 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."[5] 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.

         Anne 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.

         Nurse 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.

         During 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.[6] C.C. recalled that her stomach hurt when he did "those things" to her and that she also feared that she would become pregnant.[7]

         C.C. 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 defendant.

         During 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.[8] 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.

         Brittney 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.

         C.C. 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.

         C.C.'s 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.

         D.C. 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.[9]D.C. testified that, as police arrived, defendant fled out the back door.

         D.C. 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 concentrate.[10]

         D.C. 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.

         D.C. 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 on herself.[11]

         Detective 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.