Michigan Court of Appeals Rules Against Marquette Man Convicted of Sexual Assault

Original Case Details

A Marquette man was convicted of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree for his alleged abuse of his 12-year-old then stepdaughter. The abuse allegedly began about a year after the minor moved from Indiana to Michigan to live with her mother and stepfather (the defendant). The abuse became more frequent and continued until the girl was approximately 15 years old. The defendant subsequently divorced from the girl’s mother and moved on. The girl and her mother moved back to Indiana where the girl told her biological father about the abuse and informed local police, but no investigation resulted. She later confronted the defendant in a Facebook message regarding his sexual abuse. The defendant’s girlfriend saw the message and responded to the young girl asking about the alleged abuse. The girlfriend then contacted the stepdaughter of the defendant’s half-sister about the alleged abuse and learned that the defendant had also had sex with that girl when she was about 14 or 15 years old. The defendant was charged with abusing both girls and the trial court subsequently severed the cases so each case could be tried separately. The trial court, however, allowed “other acts” evidence to come in under Michigan Rules of Evidence (MRE) Rule 403, which resulted in testimony coming in from the other alleged victim at his trial, resulting in a conviction. It is important to note that these offenses were tried some 20 years after the alleged crimes.

The Appeal

Defendant appealed his conviction as of right on two separate grounds: 1) the trial court’s ruling allowing testimony of other acts to come in under MRE 403 was improper, and 2) that the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence to support a conviction. Both claims made by the defendant have been rejected unanimously by the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals found that the other testimony allowed under MRE 403 was highly probative to show the likelihood of the defendant’s propensity to commit acts of criminal sexual conduct against minors. The trial court record shows that the two alleged victims in the case were similar in age and were both related by to the defendant by marriage. The Court of Appeals also found that the prosecution presented enough evidence to support a conviction as the alleged victim’s testimony alone was enough to support a conviction even without any physical evidence or other corroboration. In all, the defendant’s claims were denied, and he is still in prison serving out the remaining time of his three to fifteen-year sentence.

What’s Next?

The defendant now has the option to try to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court or even the United States Supreme Court. These courts specifically choose their cases, as the Court of Appeals decision will be considered final unless the Supreme Court decides to hear and decide the legal issues raised in the case themselves. The Supreme Courts of both Michigan and the United States only hear and decide a limited number of cases each year, as they reserve their judgements for cases that raise specific legal questions that the Court feels need answers on. If the man is successful in appealing to the Supreme Court, then the Court will hear the case and make a decision that could result in the defendant getting a new trial. If he is not, then he has likely exhausted all of his appeal options and will likely serve out the remainder of his time before he is released.

Any Further Questions?

If you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime and are looking to appeal your conviction, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.

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