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People v. Deleon

Court of Appeals of Michigan

November 15, 2016

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JOE LOUIS DELEON, Defendant-Appellant.

         Eaton Circuit Court LC No. 15-020036-FC

          Before: Boonstra, P.J., and Shapiro and Gadola, JJ.

          Boonstra, P.J.

         Defendant appeals by right his convictions, following a jury trial, of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-I), MCL 750.520b(1)(a) and (2)(b) (victim under 13, defendant at least 17), and second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-II), MCL 750.520c(1)(a) and (2)(b) (victim under 13, defendant at least 17).[1] The trial court determined that defendant was a third habitual offender, MCL 769.11, and sentenced him to a 35 to 70 year term of imprisonment for the CSC-I conviction, consecutive to a 20 to 30 year term of imprisonment for the CSC-II conviction. We affirm.

         I. PERTINENT FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Defendant met the victim's mother in September 2006 and moved into her home, where she was residing with her three minor children, in late 2006 or early 2007. Defendant and the victim's mother eventually married.[2] The victim testified that from the time she was six or seven years old until she was 12, defendant "[r]aped" her "[m]ore than once." The victim described multiple instances of sexual abuse, marking the abuse by the location where it occurred: at her family's home on Grand Manor Drive, at defendant's apartment, during a sleepover she had with her cousins at the family's home then on Marsh Drive, in her mother's bedroom at the Marsh Drive home, and in a bathroom at the Marsh Drive home. At all relevant times, defendant was at least 17 years of age.

         At sentencing, the trial court found defendant to be a third habitual offender. MCL 769.11. This determination was based on defendant's prior convictions in Texas for "aggravated assault with a deadly weapon" and "indecency with a child, sexual contact in the third degree, " his victim at that time being his then-stepson. The prosecution, echoing the sentiments expressed by the victim's family following their description of the trauma suffered by the victim and her family, requested consecutive sentencing pursuant to MCL 750.520b(3), which allows a term of imprisonment imposed for CSC-I to be "served consecutively to any term of imprisonment imposed for any other criminal offense arising from the same transaction."

         In imposing sentence, the trial court characterized defendant's repeated conduct in sexually abusing young children as "almost unbelievable and inconceivable." The court noted that defendant's conduct as alleged in this case began shortly after defendant was released from prison following a 2004 conviction for molesting his stepson in Texas. Addressing defendant, and referencing both the sexual abuse for which defendant was being sentenced in this case and the sexual abuse for which he was earlier convicted in Texas, the trial court stated, "What it appears to me, Mr. Deleon, . . . is that you're finding these women and marrying these women so you have access to the children. That's what it looks like to me. And apparently with a step-son and a step-daughter, you're an equal opportunity pervert in this matter." The trial court found defendant to be "a menace to society. And this ain't gonna be the last time if you're not stopped here today. So we'll make every effort to take care of the problem today." The trial court imposed the sentences noted and ordered consecutive sentencing.

         This appeal followed. On appeal, defendant argues only that the evidence supporting his CSC-II conviction was insufficient and that his consecutive sentences violate his Sixth Amendment rights pursuant to our Supreme Court's opinion in People v Lockridge, 498 Mich. 358, 364; 870 N.W.2d 502, cert den ___US ___; 136 S.Ct. 590; 193 L.Ed.2d 487 (2015).

         II. SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE

         Defendant argues that plaintiff failed to introduce sufficient evidence of CSC-II to support his conviction. We disagree. We review de novo sufficiency of the evidence claims. People v Osby, 291 Mich.App. 412, 415; 804 N.W.2d 903 (2011). In doing so, we must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution to "determine whether a rational trier of fact could find that the essential elements of the crime were proved beyond a reasonable doubt." People v Alter, 255 Mich.App. 194, 201-202; 659 N.W.2d 667 (2003). The victim's testimony alone can provide sufficient evidence in support of a conviction. People v Brantley, 296 Mich.App. 546, 551; 823 N.W.2d 290 (2012); see also MCL 750.520h.

         Defendant was convicted of CSC-II under MCL 750.520c(2)(b), which required the jury to find that he had "engage[d] in sexual contact with" the victim who was "under 13 years of age" when he was "17 years of age or older." MCL 750.520c(1)(a) and (2)(b). "Sexual contact" means "the intentional touching of the victim's or [defendant's] intimate parts . . . if that intentional touching can reasonably be construed as being for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification [or], done for a sexual purpose . . . ." MCL 750.520a(q). "Intimate parts" include a person's "genital area, groin, inner thigh, buttock, or breast." MCL 750.520a(f). And when determining whether touching could be reasonably construed as being for a sexual purpose, the conduct should be "viewed objectively" under a " 'reasonable person' standard." People v Piper, 223 Mich.App. 642, 647, 650; 567 N.W.2d 483 (1997). The ages of the parties at the relevant time are not in dispute.

         The victim testified to multiple instances in which defendant used his hands to make sexual contact with her intimate parts. She testified to multiple instances in which defendant used his hands and fingers to touch her "from [her] vagina to [her] butt" before penetrating her with his penis. Given this testimony, a rational jury could objectively find that defendant's touching of the victim's intimate parts with his hand or fingers was both intentional and "for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification." MCL 750.520a(q).

         The victim also testified to several other instances of sexual contact sufficient to support a CSC-II conviction.[3] She described defendant intentionally using his penis to touch her genital area at the Grand Manor home and her buttock at his apartment. She also described defendant intentionally touching either her genital area or buttock with his penis when her cousins spent the night at the Marsh Drive home. She also reported that defendant had some contact with her genital area when she was in her mother's bed at the Marsh Drive home. And she stated that defendant touched her "inner thigh" with his stomach ...


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