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Martinez v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

December 31, 2018

THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff).

          Appeal from the District Court of Natrona County The Honorable Catherine E. Wilking, Judge

          Representing Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender: Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Kirk A. Morgan, Chief Appellate Counsel; James M. Causey, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel. Argument by Mr. Causey.

          Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Attorney General, Christyne M. Martens, Deputy Attorney General; Caitlin F. Harper, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Katherine A. Adams, Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms. Adams.

          Before DAVIS, C.J., and BURKE[*], FOX, KAUTZ, and BOOMGAARDEN, JJ.

          BOOMGAARDEN, Justice.

         [¶1] A jury found Appellant, Miguel Alberto "Michelle" Martinez (Ms. Martinez), [1] guilty of sexual abuse of a minor in the first and second degree. Ms. Martinez seeks reversal of both convictions claiming there is insufficient evidence to sustain them. In addition, Ms. Martinez claims prejudice because the district court precluded her from presenting character evidence pertaining to the victim. We affirm.


         [¶2] Ms. Martinez presents two issues, which we rephrase as follows:

I. Did the district court err when it denied Ms. Martinez's motion for judgment of acquittal on both counts?
II. Did the district court err when it denied the admission of character evidence of the alleged victim?


         [¶3] On March 23, 2017, CM's mother, Amber Freudenstein, invited several friends over to her Casper home, including Ms. Martinez, Jamie Brown, and Andrea Pead. While Ms. Freudenstein's ten-year-old daughter, CM, was at school, the group visited, listened to music, and everyone except Ms. Pead drank alcohol. During this time, Ms. Martinez consumed between one and three pints of rum, and was noticeably "buzzed" and "being goofy."

         [¶4] Around 6:30 p.m., Ms. Martinez went to the only bathroom in the residence, which was located upstairs.[2] Ms. Freudenstein testified Ms. Martinez was upstairs for about 20 minutes. By this time, CM had returned home from school and her mother observed her sitting on the couch in the living room when Ms. Martinez went to use the bathroom. CM testified she went upstairs to get a book from her bedroom and use the bathroom, which was across the hall from her bedroom. CM explained she shut the bathroom door but did not lock it. Ms. Martinez entered the bathroom, without knocking, as CM stood to pull up her pants. Ms. Martinez went over to CM and rubbed CM's right breast with Ms. Martinez's hand and put Ms. Martinez's "dingdong" in CM's "private part" in "the front part" of CM's body. CM kicked Ms. Martinez twice and tried to scream, but Ms. Martinez put a hand over CM's mouth and told her to keep it a secret. Just before Ms. Martinez stopped the assault, CM heard someone stomping up the stairs, whom she thought was her little brother, though she could not see him. After Ms. Martinez left the bathroom, CM pulled up her pants and went downstairs.

         [¶5] Around 7:00 p.m., Cetera Moore arrived to pick up Ms. Martinez. Ms. Moore's eight-year-old son came into the apartment and attempted to use the bathroom, but it was locked; he went back downstairs. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Martinez came downstairs and left with Ms. Moore and her son to go to Walmart.[3] Ms. Brown and Ms. Pead testified that before Ms. Martinez left, she told CM something along the lines of she "better leave those boys alone or they could penetrate you" or "don't let the boys penetrate you" while Ms. Martinez made a gesture using a thumb and forefinger to make a circle and using another finger to go through the circle, which both witnesses found odd.

         [¶6] Once Ms. Martinez was gone, CM told her mother about the incident. CM told her mother Ms. Martinez went into CM's bedroom, cuffed her hand over her mouth, dragged her into the bathroom, grabbed her chest, right breast area, and stuck Ms. Martinez's penis in her. Ms. Freudenstein testified CM was crying, upset, and hysterical. Ms. Freudenstein also described CM as "scared [be]cause she didn't want Michelle to find out."

         [¶7] Around 7:34 p.m., Ms. Freudenstein called Ms. Moore and asked her to bring Ms. Martinez back so she could speak with her. Ms. Moore and Ms. Martinez returned to the apartment as requested and a heated confrontation ensued. Ms. Martinez eventually left with Ms. Moore and Ms. Freudenstein called the police.

         [¶8] Law enforcement responded around 9:15 p.m. Officer Paschke obtained a brief statement from CM, who was still visibly upset. CM told the officer that "her parents' friend, Michelle, but she's a boy, requested that she go into the bathroom and then, at that point, had touched her" and CM pointed to her chest. She also said Ms. Martinez "put it inside" as she pointed down. When the officer asked CM whether "it" referred to Ms. Martinez's penis, CM "nodded yes," "began crying," and stated that "it hurt inside." At that point, Officer Paschke stopped his questioning, requested Ms. Freudenstein take CM to the hospital for a sexual assault examination, and followed them to the hospital.

         [¶9] A nurse began the examination shortly after 10:30 p.m. At trial, the nurse testified CM informed her that after dinnertime, "someone did something to her private spot" and pointed to her breast and female genitalia. CM stated she kicked Ms. Martinez. CM also complained of pain in her genital area. When asked why she had pain there, CM said she had a "dingdong" stuck into her. The nurse noted CM urinated before the exam, because urination can wash away evidence, but that CM had not bathed, washed or defecated. CM did not know whether Ms. Martinez ejaculated, and CM did not report any anal penetration.

          [¶10] The nurse further testified that she examined CM, took photographs, gathered DNA evidence, and took CM's clothes for further testing. During the sexual assault examination, the nurse noted redness on the entire perimeter of the labia majora and redness and an abrasion, caused by friction, at the junction of the hymen and the labia minora on both sides. Pictures of the injuries were displayed for the jury. The nurse also noted brown, "fecal-appearing material" from CM's perineum to "way up the back of her butt," but she did not take any samples of the material. Although the nurse would not speculate on time, she believed the redness and abrasions were relatively recent ...

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