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. Romero

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

October 17, 2018

State
v.
Ricardo Romero.

          Providence County Superior Court (P1/13-3819A) Associate Justice Robert D. Krause

          For State: Owen Murphy Department of Attorney General

          For Defendant: Camille A. McKenna Office of the Public Defender

          Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.

          OPINION

          Gilbert V. Indeglia, Associate Justice.

         After a trial in Providence County Superior Court, a jury found the defendant, Ricardo Romero (Romero or defendant), guilty of three counts of second-degree child molestation sexual assault, in violation of G.L. 1956 §§ 11-37-8.3 and 11-37-8.4. On appeal, defendant contends that the trial justice improperly admitted testimony regarding previous restraining orders against defendant and erred in denying defendant's motion for a new trial. On September 25, 2018, this case came before the Supreme Court pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in this appeal should not be summarily decided. After hearing the parties' arguments and reviewing the memoranda submitted by counsel, we are satisfied that cause has not been shown. Accordingly, further briefing or argument is not required to decide this matter. For the reasons explained herein, we affirm the judgment of conviction.

         I Facts and Travel

         On December 18, 2013, the state charged defendant by indictment with two counts of first-degree child molestation sexual assault and one count of second-degree child molestation sexual assault for acts alleged to have been committed against the victim, Mary, [1] then six years old.[2] Mary is the daughter of defendant's then-girlfriend, Joann, and, at the time of the alleged incidents, Mary and Joann lived together in a small, two-bedroom apartment. In August 2012, Joann began dating defendant and he occasionally stayed overnight at the apartment.

         According to the testimony at trial, on or about February 8, 2013, defendant spent the night at the apartment. Joann testified that she was aware that defendant got up from the bed two or three times during the night. Joann further testified that, when she asked defendant "if he was okay and why he kept getting up[, ]" he became defensive and agitated; Joann found defendant's reaction to be odd. Joann testified that, the next day, she asked Mary if defendant had gone into her room the night before and that Mary had responded in the affirmative. That same day, Joann called defendant and confronted him about his having gone into Mary's room the previous night. Joann testified that defendant became defensive and confirmed that he had been in Mary's bedroom, but he stated that he had "always" checked on Mary. However, Joann testified that this upset her because that was not true and defendant "ha[d] no reason to be in [her] daughter's room." After the phone call with defendant, Joann asked her sister to attempt to elicit more information from Mary concerning defendant's presence in her bedroom the night before. Joann's sister took Mary out to eat; when the two returned, Joann's sister reported that Mary told her that defendant had "rubbed her butt."

         According to Joann, later in the day on February 9, 2013, defendant arrived at the apartment unannounced. While there, defendant warned Joann, in what she characterized as a "very aggressive" manner, to "keep [her] windows locked." That same day, Joann called the police. When the police arrived, they spoke with Joann and then took Joann and Mary to Hasbro Children's Hospital. Mary was interviewed at a later date by the Child Advocacy Center. Defendant was arrested and the grand jury returned an indictment charging defendant with three counts of first-degree child molestation sexual assault on December 18, 2013.

         Mary, who was ten years old at the time of trial, testified as to three separate times- comprising the three separate counts of the indictment-that defendant entered her bedroom on the night in question. Mary testified that defendant came into her bedroom while she was sleeping and pulled down her pants and underwear; Mary then felt a fingernail and a finger go inside her buttocks. Mary then testified that defendant again "did something bad" to her. According to Mary, she heard someone stomping in her room and remembers feeling something wet on her buttocks. Mary testified that defendant again pulled down her pants and underwear; she testified that, when she tried to move toward the wall, defendant grabbed her on the stomach. According to Mary, "[i]t was kind of in, but not that much"; she testified that defendant was moving a little and she knew it was in her buttocks because it "hurted" her. Finally, Mary testified that the final time defendant entered her bedroom she felt a hand, fingers, and fingernails squeeze her buttocks.

         The state also called Joann as a witness. Defense counsel, during his cross-examination of Joann, attempted to elicit a motive for the accusations against defendant. In that inquiry, defense counsel asked Joann if she desired to have children with defendant, if she was aware that defendant had five children, and if she knew that defendant had previously had a vasectomy. During this line of questioning, Joann denied wanting to have children with defendant, confirmed knowledge of the fact that he had had a vasectomy, and further stated that defendant was "not able to see" his children. The state's redirect examination of Joann on the topic of defendant not being able to see his children, discussed in more detail below, is at issue in this appeal.

         At the conclusion of two days of trial, the jury found defendant guilty of the lesser-included offense of second-degree child molestation sexual assault on the first two counts, and also guilty of second-degree child molestation sexual assault on the third count. Thereafter, defendant moved for a new trial, arguing that the trial testimony lacked any indication of the necessary element of sexual gratification as to all three counts of second-degree child molestation sexual assault. Moreover, defendant averred that Mary's testimony indicating that there were two instances of penetration, particularly in light of the jury's finding of not guilty on the two counts of first-degree child molestation sexual assault, precluded a finding of guilty on the lesser-included offense of second-degree child molestation sexual assault. Ultimately, the trial justice denied defendant's motion for a new trial and sentenced defendant to three concurrent twenty-year terms of imprisonment, with seven years to serve and the remainder of the sentences suspended, with probation. Defendant timely appealed to this Court, arguing that the trial justice erred: (1) in overruling defendant's objection to Mary's testimony about existing restraining orders that prevented defendant from seeing his children and failing to strike that portion of Joann's testimony; and (2) in denying his motion for a new trial.

         II

         Standards ...


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.