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State v. Patterson

Court of Appeals of Utah

October 19, 2017

State of Utah, Appellee,
Cory R. Patterson, Appellant.

         Fourth District Court, Provo Department The Honorable Derek P. Pullan No. 141403037

          Dustin M. Parmley, Attorney for Appellant

          Sean D. Reyes and Tera J. Peterson, Attorneys for Appellee

          Judge Michele M. Christiansen authored this Opinion, in which Judges Gregory K. Orme and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.


          CHRISTIANSEN, Judge.

         ¶1 Defendant Cory R. Patterson challenges his conviction on one count of object rape, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury's verdict. He does not challenge his convictions on two counts of forcible sexual abuse, stemming from the same incident. We conclude that the evidence adduced at trial was sufficient for the jury to find every element of object rape, and we therefore affirm.

         ¶2 When we review a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, we review the evidence and all inferences that may reasonably be drawn from it in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict. State v. Pullman, 2013 UT App 168, ¶ 4, 306 P.3d 827. We will vacate the conviction only when the evidence, so viewed, is sufficiently inconclusive or inherently improbable that reasonable minds must have entertained a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. Id.; see also State v. Hamilton, 827 P.2d 232, 236 (Utah 1992). To conduct this analysis, we first review the elements of the relevant statute. We then consider the evidence presented to the jury to determine whether evidence of every element of the crime was adduced at trial.

         ¶3 Defendant was charged with object rape. A person is guilty of object rape when the person, "without the victim's consent, causes the penetration, however slight, of the genital or anal opening of another person who is 14 years of age or older, [1]by any foreign object, substance, instrument, or device, including a part of the human body other than the mouth or genitals, with intent to cause substantial emotional or bodily pain to the victim or with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person." Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-402.2(1) (LexisNexis Supp. 2016). "Penetration" in this context means "entry between the outer folds of the labia." State v. Simmons, 759 P.2d 1152, 1154 (Utah 1988). On appeal, Defendant's sole claim is that the State did not present evidence that he caused such penetration.

         ¶4 To determine whether sufficient evidence was presented, we must scrutinize the testimony elicited at trial. And because we review evidence in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, State v. Holgate, 2000 UT 74, ¶ 2, 10 P.3d 346, we rely primarily on Victim's account of what happened to her, which the jury apparently credited.

         ¶5 Victim met Defendant at their workplace; Defendant was 23 and Victim was 17. While working together, Defendant regaled her with stories of his military training and his plans to get a concealed carry permit. Victim testified that, after their shifts, Defendant asked Victim if he could walk her to her car. When they got to her car, Defendant told Victim that he wanted to kiss her. He then kissed her for "about a couple minutes" before pushing her into the back seat of her car. Once inside the car, Defendant continued to talk to Victim, who was "start[ing] to get scared, frightened, and . . . was still unsure of what to do or how to act." Victim testified that she did not think about running away at that point, explaining, "[I]n the moment when it's so traumatic, you don't know what to do. You're not really in control of your body." She also testified that she was concerned about "what he said about the military [training] before and about his conceal[ed] carry permit." Defendant then resumed kissing Victim.

         ¶6 Victim testified that, after about five minutes, "[t]he kissing got more intimate, and then he undid my pants, and he put his hand down my pants and started touching my vagina and moving his hand around that area." Victim further testified, "[W]hen he started trying to put his fingers up my vagina I told him to stop, and he kept saying, 'No, no, it's okay. It's okay.'" Victim repeated her plea for Defendant to stop, and "he kind of moved his fingers back and just started touching around the area instead of putting his fingers up, instead of penetrating."

         ¶7 Defendant then opened his pants and "used [his] hand to grab my hand, and caress his penis and move it up and down." Victim testified that whenever she tried to let go, Defendant would "put[] my hand back onto his penis. After a while he noticed that I didn't want to do that; and after I told him to stop, he just noticed that. So he finished himself off. Then he had lifted up my shirt and moved my bra up and touched my breast."

         ¶8 At this point in Victim's testimony, the prosecutor asked Victim to provide more detail about the earlier touching. Specifically, the prosecutor asked Victim to "describe where on your vagina he touched." Victim testified, "He touched the general area. Then when he was trying to put his fingers up he separated the labia" using "[j]ust one hand, his two fingers." Victim further testified, "It really hurt. I had never felt anything like that before."

         ¶9 The question before us is whether a reasonable jury, after hearing this testimony, could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant caused "penetration, however slight, of [Victim's] genital . . . opening." See Utah Code Ann. ยง 76-5-402.2(1) (LexisNexis Supp. 2016). We therefore review the evidence in detail, bearing in mind that the evidence presented to the jury must speak to ...

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