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Leonard v. State

April 3, 2013

DEON ALLEN LEONARD, APPELLANT (DEFENDANT),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, APPELLEE (PLAINTIFF).



Appeal from the District Court of Sweetwater County The Honorable Jere A. Ryckman, Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hill, Justice.

Before KITE, C.J., HILL, VOIGT, BURKE, and DAVIS, JJ.

[¶1] Appellant Deon Allen Leonard, after being convicted of four counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree, complains on appeal that prosecutorial misconduct occurred and that his trial counsel's performance was deficient. We affirm.

ISSUES

[¶2] Leonard presents two issues:

The prosecuting attorney's misconduct during the trial precluded [Leonard] from receiving a fair trial as guaranteed by the due process clause of the 14th amendment to the constitution.

[Leonard] was denied a fair trial as a result of the violation of his 5th amendment right against self-incrimination caused by the deficient assistance of counsel.

FACTS

[¶3] Deon Leonard and Judy Green had a short-term relationship of which a child (PG) was born. Leonard and PG had no relationship. When PG was four years old, her mother died and PG went to live with her maternal grandparents. Soon thereafter, Leonard began weekend visitation with PG and was soon declared PG's guardian. PG's grandparents were granted visitation, but they remained concerned for PG's well-being. Their concerns centered on PG's emotional status after her mother's death and Leonard's prior conviction for immoral and indecent acts committed with his minor adopted daughter. Years earlier, Leonard had pleaded guilty to immoral and indecent acts with a child.

[¶4] Although PG's maternal grandparents attempted to regain custody of her, their efforts failed. From 2004 to 2012, PG lived with Leonard and his wife Dawn. After that marriage broke up, PG was left alone with Leonard once again. The care of PG soon fell upon neighbors and friends, John and Megan Liggett. PG began living with the Liggetts in November of 2010 and would see Leonard on occasional weekends.

[¶5] The Liggetts noticed PG seemed unhappy and was exhibiting sexualized behaviors uncommon for a seven year old, and sought out the school counselor's help. However, Leonard did not approve of the counseling and because the Liggetts were not PG's legal guardians, she was only able to go to a program that allowed her to talk to her teachers. The Liggetts remained involved in PG's life and were soon granted legal guardianship over PG. After this, PG approached Megan Liggett and asked if she ever had to see her father again. Mrs. Liggett asked her why, and PG responded that Leonard had touched her inappropriately on her personal areas, her chest, and the "parts I go pee out of." Megan Liggett informed PG's counselor, and then law enforcement and DFS, of PG's statements.

[¶6] After an investigation and jury trial, Leonard was convicted of four counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-315(a)(iii) , and this appeal followed. More facts will be elicited herefter as needed.

DISCUSSION

Prosecutorial ...


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