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Devries v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

October 23, 2019

BRUCE WAYNE DEVRIES APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE SALINE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 63CR-17-335] HONORABLE GRISHAM PHILLIPS, JUDGE

          Terry Goodwin Jones, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Rachel Kemp, Senior Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, JUDGE

         Bruce Wayne Devries was convicted by a Saline County jury of one count of rape; one count of sexual assault; three counts of video voyeurism; and thirty-two counts of distributing, possessing, or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child. He was sentenced to forty years' imprisonment for rape, twenty years' imprisonment for sexual assault, six years' imprisonment on each count of video voyeurism, and ten years' imprisonment and a $10, 000 fine on each of the thirty-two counts of distributing, possessing, or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child. He appeals his convictions, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to support his convictions and arguing that the trial court erred in allowing one of the victims to testify. We affirm.

          I. Sufficiency of the Evidence

         Devries's first argument is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence of each of his convictions.[1] When reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, this court assesses the evidence in the light most favorable to the State and considers only the evidence that supports the verdict. Id. We test the sufficiency of the evidence to determine whether the verdict is supported by substantial evidence, direct or circumstantial. Wyles v. State, 368 Ark. 646, 249 S.W.3d 782 (2007); Boyd v. State, 2016 Ark.App. 407, 500 S.W.3d 772. Substantial evidence is evidence that is of sufficient force and character that will, with reasonable certainty, compel a conclusion one way or the other, without resorting to speculation or conjecture. Hinton v. State, 2015 Ark. 479, 477 S.W.3d 517. With these standards in mind, we consider the evidence presented to the jury relating to each conviction.

         A. Rape and Sexual Assault

         Devries's first challenge is to the sufficiency of the evidence to support his rape and sexual-assault convictions.[2] He asserts that these crimes involved the same victim, CC, [3] his now nineteen-year-old stepdaughter. At trial, CC testified that Devries began sexually abusing her when she was in fifth grade while they lived in Kansas, it lasted through several interstate moves, and it continued while they were living in Arkansas. CC testified that the abuse included inappropriate touching and digital penetration. CC admitted that she had originally accused her biological father of being her abuser instead of Devries, but she did so only because she was afraid of Devries. She reported that Devries had threatened that she would be sent to foster care away from her family and that he would hurt her mother if she told what had happened between them.

         Devries argues that this evidence was insufficient to convict him of either rape or sexual assault. He claims that because CC had previously accused her biological father of abusing her and then subsequently changed her story to identify him as the abuser, she cannot be believed. While he admits that a rape victim's testimony alone is sufficient to support a rape conviction, he claims CC's credibility was "nonexistent" and therefore cannot support a conviction. We disagree.

         Our supreme court has held that the uncorroborated testimony of the victim alone is sufficient to support a rape or sexual-assault conviction. Vance v. State, 2011 Ark.App. 413. Devries essentially requests that we assess CC's credibility. In a sufficiency analysis, we do not assess the credibility of witnesses, as this is an issue for the jury and not the court. Id. The trier of fact is free to believe all or part of any witness's testimony and may resolve questions of conflicting testimony and inconsistent evidence. Id. Moreover, we have clearly stated that inconsistencies in the testimony of a rape victim are matters of credibility for the jury to resolve, and it is within the province of the jury to accept or reject testimony as it sees fit. Perez v. State, 2016 Ark.App. 291, 494 S.W.3d 431. Here, the jury heard CC's testimony regarding her claims against Devries as well as her explanation as to why she had initially accused her biological father. This inconsistency in her testimony was a credibility determination best left for the jury to decide.

         B. Video Voyeurism

         Devries next challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction of video voyeurism.[4] The victims of these crimes are his adopted teenage daughters, AD and PD. AD was thirteen and PD was twelve when they were adopted by Devries and CC's mother.

         At trial, AD, who was sixteen at the time, testified generally that Devries made her uncomfortable and made sexual remarks all the time. Specifically, she observed him watching her through the bathroom window when she was taking a shower, she found a baby monitor in the corner of the bathroom and in her bedroom, and she found holes in the walls ...


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