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Green v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

January 24, 2018



          Short Law Firm, by: Lee D. Short, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Adam Jackson, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.


         Quentin Green appeals after he was convicted by a Miller County jury of rape and sexual assault in the second degree. He was sentenced to serve consecutively 300 months and 60 months in the Arkansas Department of Correction, respectively. Appellant argues on appeal that the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to allow defense counsel to inquire of an expert witness concerning her previous testimony in an unrelated case. We affirm.

         Appellant was charged by felony information with one count of rape, a Class Y felony, and two counts of sexual assault in the second degree, a Class B felony.[1] A trial was held on March 2, 2017. At trial, the State presented several witnesses. Lyndi Green, appellant's former wife, testified that she has four children. K.B. is one of her middle children. Lyndi testified that when K.B. was ten years old, K.B. told her that appellant, K.B.'s stepfather at the time, had touched her inappropriately under her pajamas and under her panties. Appellant denied the allegations after Lyndi confronted him about the incident. Lyndi testified that on that same night when she confronted appellant, appellant indicated that he thought about killing himself. After that incident, Lyndi had K.B. stay with her grandparents and took K.B. to see a counselor. A few days later and after further conversations with Lyndi about the ramifications of the allegations, K.B. recanted her story, apologized to appellant, and returned home. Additionally, the family went to an attorney, Michael Peek, and a video was taken of K.B. explaining that she had recanted her story. A few years later, K.B. told her mother, Lyndi, that she had lied when she had recanted her story. Additionally, K.B. told her biological father about the incident, and it was reported to law enforcement.

         Officer Patsy DeHart testified that she was the investigator assigned to the case in 2016 against appellant. Officer DeHart testified that law enforcement had received a call on the Arkansas State Police hotline with the allegations. Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children took the initial report, and it was screened by the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). Officer DeHart contacted the Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) and arranged for K.B. to be interviewed.

         Melanie Halbrook, a forensic interviewer at the CAC in Benton County, testified that she had interviewed K.B. K.B. was fifteen years old at the time of the interview. Halbrook testified that during the interview, K.B. disclosed that appellant had digitally penetrated her when she was ten or eleven years old. Although K.B. reported that the first time happened when she was about ten years old, K.B. indicated that appellant had continued to inappropriately touch her on subsequent occasions. K.B. additionally disclosed to her that she had falsely recanted her story after the first incident because her mother did not believe her. Halbrook testified that over 85 percent of children will recant their statements when there is a lack of maternal support and the abuse is by a male caretaker. Halbrook further testified that of the 85 percent of children who recant, about 93 percent of them will later reaffirm those allegations. Regarding the video that was taken in Attorney Peek's office, Halbrook testified that the interview was not conducted under the protocols used by her office. She testified that Peek used a lot of direct questions, forced multiple-choice answers, legal jargon, and hypothetical questions, all of which she avoids. Halbrook testified that after her interview, she opined that K.B.'s statement and body language were consistent with sexual abuse.

         K.B. testified and described in detail two incidents in which appellant inappropriately touched her. K.B. testified that on at least one occasion, appellant digitally penetrated her vagina. K.B. admitted that she recanted her story after telling her mother about one of the incidents and that she had lied during the video that was recorded in Peek's office. She explained that her mother at that time did not believe her story and that she felt that the counselor also did not believe her. In 2016, after Lyndi and appellant had divorced in 2015, K.B. attended a church retreat. K.B. testified that she told her friends at the event that appellant had, in fact, inappropriately touched her despite her prior statements to the contrary. Afterward, she told Lyndi and her biological father that she had not made up the story about the incidents.

         Appellant testified and denied the allegations. Appellant indicated that at the time K.B. had made the initial allegations, she was angry with her mother and wanted to live with her biological father. He did not know why she realleged the allegations. Appellant further denied that he had ever threatened suicide to Lyndi.

         Attorney Peek testified that he had interviewed K.B. after appellant and Lyndi hired him. At that time, K.B. had initially accused appellant of inappropriately touching her and then recanted her story. Peek explained that it was not his duty to find out the truth but to protect his client that paid him. Peek testified that he does not necessarily model his interview the way that CAC does. However, he does try to avoid leading questions on all material parts and felt that he did so during K.B.'s interview.

         Appellant finally offered two character witnesses on his behalf. Appellant's grandmother testified that appellant did not ever touch anyone inappropriately to her knowledge or do anything that would cause her concern. Furthermore, appellant's pastor testified that he did not have any concerns about appellant being around either of his children or grandchildren.

         After all evidence was presented, including the videos from both interviews, the jury found appellant guilty of rape and sexual assault in the second degree, and appellant was sentenced to serve a total of 360 months in the Arkansas Department of Correction. This appeal followed.

         On appeal, appellant does not contest the sufficiency of the evidence. Instead, appellant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to allow defense counsel to ask Halbrook questions about her testimony in another unrelated rape case in which that jury allegedly found that defendant not guilty. Appellant argues that the excluded cross-examination would have impeached Halbrook's ...

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