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Nelson v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

March 2, 2016

NEIL TAYLOR NELSON, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS, APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. CR-2013-1934-6. HONORABLE MARK LINDSAY, JUDGE.

         For APPELLANT: TONEY BAKER BRASUELL.

         For APPELLEE: VALERIE GLOVER FORTNER; ATTORNEY GENERAL.

         CLIFF HOOFMAN, Judge. VAUGHT and BROWN, JJ., agree.

          OPINION

Page 285

          CLIFF HOOFMAN, Judge

         Appellant Neil Taylor Nelson appeals from the Washington County Circuit Court's order denying his motion to transfer his case to the juvenile division or, in the alternative, to extend juvenile jurisdiction. On appeal, Nelson argues that the circuit court erred in denying his motion. We affirm.

         On November 19, 2013, Nelson (DOB 11/22/95) was charged as an adult with four counts of raping his eleven-year-old cousin in violation of Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-14-103 (Repl. 2013). On March 19, 2015, Nelson filed a motion to transfer his case to the juvenile division or, in the alternative, to extend juvenile jurisdiction based on the fact that he was seventeen years of age when the offenses were alleged to have been committed.

         A juvenile-transfer hearing was held on May 7, 2015. Detective Rick Frisby testified that Mary Rose Morelik, Nelson's step-grandmother, brought her granddaughter, H.M., to the Springdale Police Department in November 2013 because she suspected that H.M. had been sexually assaulted by Nelson According to Frisby, H.M. disclosed during the interview that Nelson had used a spoon to unlock her bedroom door and had digitally penetrated her. H.M. indicated that her grandparents had been locking her bedroom door in an attempt to protect her

Page 286

from Nelson, who also resided in the home. Frisby testified that a fork with broken tines was found inside the residence, and Morelik informed him that Nelson had used the fork to unlock H.M.'s door. Nelson was interviewed and admitted that he had sexual intercourse with H.M. on four separate occasions. He further admitted that it was his idea and indicated that it was a mistake.

         Jeremy Kelly testified that he had been Nelson's probation officer from February 2012 until August 2013. Kelly indicated that Nelson had previously been adjudicated a juvenile delinquent in 2012 based on his commission of several criminal offenses, including theft of property and breaking or entering. Kelly stated that Nelson did not do well on probation initially, and it was revoked. Kelly testified that Nelson then received a second term of probation, which he successfully completed in August 2013. According to Kelly, if Nelson's current case was transferred to the juvenile division, he would not be eligible for any rehabilitative services through the juvenile court because he was older than eighteen years of age. Kelly stated that the only option would be to refer Nelson to the Department of Youth Services (DYS) so that he could be placed in one of two inpatient juvenile detention facilities.

         Scott Tanner, the juvenile ombudsman who provides postdispositional advocacy for youth committed to DYS, also testified that Nelson would be limited to two inpatient treatment programs through DYS due to his age. Tanner indicated that these programs would require a minimum of twelve to fourteen months and that Nelson would then need to undergo a risk assessment or another psychosexual evaluation prior to placement in the community. Tanner stated that all of this treatment would have to be completed by Nelson's twenty-first birthday. Tanner testified that another option would be an extended-juvenile-jurisdiction (EJJ) designation. With that option, Nelson would have the right to a jury trial in the juvenile division. If the allegations were found to be true, Nelson would still have to complete treatment through DYS and then undergo outside treatment, a risk assessment, and another hearing to determine whether he had been rehabilitated. Again, Tanner testified that all of these requirements would have to be completed before Nelson turned twenty-one years old.

         Lewanna Hellwig testified that she was Nelson's special-education teacher at Springdale High School. She indicated that Nelson's academic performance was poor and that he read and wrote on a first-grade level. She stated, however, that Nelson did not put forth a lot of effort in her classroom. Hellwig indicated that Nelson was aware of ...


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