Sandrelli v. State , 2015 Ark. App. 127 ( 2015 )

  •                                 Cite as 
    2015 Ark. App. 127
                    ARKANSAS COURT OF APPEALS
                                          DIVISION IV
                                          No. CR-13-916
                                                     Opinion Delivered   February 25, 2015
                       APPELLANT                     APPEAL FROM THE SEBASTIAN
                                                     COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FORT
                                                     SMITH DISTRICT [NO. CR-12-1189]
                                                     HONORABLE J. MICHAEL
                                                     FITZHUGH, JUDGE
                                     APPELLEE        AFFIRMED
                              PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge
           Appellant Robert Lee Sandrelli was convicted by a Sebastian County jury of four
    counts of rape and was sentenced to four consecutive sentences of 35 years each to be served
    in the Arkansas Department of Correction. He appeals, asserting that there was insufficient
    evidence corroborating the victim’s testimony.1 Because there is no requirement that a rape
    victim’s testimony be corroborated in order to be sufficient, we affirm.
           Our standard of review is well settled. In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of
    the evidence, this court determines whether the verdict is supported by substantial evidence,
    direct or circumstantial. See Smoak v. State, 
    2011 Ark. 529
    385 S.W.3d 257
    . Substantial
    evidence is evidence forceful enough to compel a conclusion one way or the other beyond
    suspicion or conjecture. See id. This court views the evidence in the light most favorable to
             This appeal reaches us for the second time after rebriefing was ordered due to
    inadequacies in appellant’s abstract and addendum, which have now been corrected. Sandrelli
    v. State, 
    2014 Ark. App. 444
                                     Cite as 
    2015 Ark. App. 127
    the verdict, and only evidence supporting the verdict will be considered. See id. We now turn
    to a review of the evidence primarily as presented by the testimony of the victim, G.H.
           G.H. is the fourteen-year-old son of Sandrelli. On his tenth birthday, G.H. was
    sexually abused by Sandrelli for the first time. Sandrelli continued to sexually abuse G.H.
    almost weekly thereafter. G.H. described the sexual abuse as acts of oral sex, where Sandrelli
    would perform oral sex on G.H. and force G.H. to perform oral sex on Sandrelli. G.H. also
    testified that Sandrelli attempted to rape him anally. In addition to the acts of rape, Sandrelli
    would physically abuse G.H. G.H. reported that Sandrelli was a heavy drinker and that
    drinking beer was a contributing factor to both the physical and sexual abuse.
           On October 6, 2012, G.H. left Sandrelli’s home due to physical abuse from Sandrelli.
    He went to a neighbor’s home and made contact with his sister. He reported to his sister, for
    the first time, that his father, Robert Sandrelli, was physically and sexually abusing him. She
    convinced him to contact the police, which he did. Law enforcement investigation of these
    allegations included interviews, a physical examination of G.H., a search of Sandrelli’s home,
    and submissions to the crime lab. The physical examination of G.H. showed no tangible signs
    of sexual abuse, and no DNA evidence for Sandrelli was found on items submitted to the
    crime lab. However, G.H. did have signs of physical abuse on his body, and the search of the
    home did reveal that there was no food in the refrigerator, only beer.
           After trial, Sandrelli was convicted of four counts of rape and was sentenced to a
    combined total of 140 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction. Sandrelli appeals,
    arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support his rape convictions. More specifically,
                                     Cite as 
    2015 Ark. App. 127
    he contends that there was no corroborating testimony to support the victim’s contention that
    a rape had occurred. To support his argument, he emphasizes the fact that there was no
    physical evidence of penetration and that DNA evidence that would have corroborated the
    victim’s testimony was not found. He further asserts that evidence was presented that the
    boy’s mother had been trying to regain custody of the victim and that the boy wanted to live
    with her; in essence, challenging the victim’s credibility.
           A person commits rape if he or she engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual
    activity with another person who is less than fourteen years of age. See Ark. Code Ann. § 5-
    14-103(a)(3)(A) (Repl. 2013). “Deviate sexual activity” is defined as “any act of sexual
    gratification” involving “[t]he penetration, however slight, of the anus or mouth of a person
    by the penis of another person.” Ark. Code Ann. § 5-14-101(1)(A) (Repl. 2013).
           Here, the victim, G.H., testified that Sandrelli had sexually abused him since he was
    ten years old. He described the acts of sexual abuse, which included oral sex and attempted
    anal sex. The description of the acts of oral sex involved the penetration of Sandrelli’s penis
    into the mouth of G.H. A rape victim’s uncorroborated testimony describing penetration may
    constitute substantial evidence to sustain a conviction of rape, even when the victim is a child.
    Brown v. State, 
    374 Ark. 341
    288 S.W.3d 226
     (2008). The rape victim’s testimony need not
    be corroborated, and scientific evidence is not required. Kelley v. State, 
    375 Ark. 483
    292 S.W.3d 297
     (2009). Moreover, it is the function of the jury, and not the reviewing court, to
    evaluate the credibility of witnesses and to resolve any inconsistencies in the evidence. Vance
                                    Cite as 
    2015 Ark. App. 127
    v. State, 
    2011 Ark. 392
    384 S.W.3d 515
    . G.H.’s testimony alone is sufficient to support the
    jury’s verdict.
           HARRISON and VAUGHT, JJ., agree
           David L. Dunagin, for appellant.
           Dustin McDaniel, Att’y Gen., by: Valerie Glover Fortner, Ass’t Att’y Gen., for

Document Info

DocketNumber: CR-13-916

Citation Numbers: 2015 Ark. App. 127

Judges: Phillip T. Whiteaker

Filed Date: 2/25/2015

Precedential Status: Precedential

Modified Date: 4/14/2017