Casper Man Denied New Trial in Sex Abuse Case
A man convicted last month of sexually abusing three children saw his motion for a new trial denied Thursday morning.
On behalf of Douglas Clayton Jones, who was found guilty of three counts each of second- and third-degree sexual abuse of a minor, attorney Joseph Cole argued that videos of the victims' forensic interviews were improperly played for the jury during trial.
Cole contended that the interviews, completed at the Children's Advocacy Project in Casper, amounted to a second testimony by each victim, with no opportunity for cross-examination by the defense.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri, in referencing Wyoming case law, said that video of forensic interviews can be admitted at trial as evidence of consistent statements by a victim.
Taheri specified that such video can be admitted in order to refute any implication by the defense that a victim's testimony has been improperly influenced.
"There have been multiple cases in the past where the videos were played and they were approved of," Taheri told Sullins. He also pointed out that the videos shown during trial were significantly redacted.
Taheri also claimed that Cole's motion was an attempt to bring up objections which Cole had previously brought at trial, and which Sullins had overruled.
Cole pointed to background information on the people who conducted the interviews, which he said should not have been introduced at trial.
"It certainly did amount to, if you will, a certification of the interviews," Cole argued. "They had the effect of bolstering the credibility of the children."
That was significant, Cole continued, because, "This is a credibility case."
With the forensic interviewers having answered questions about their background and experience, Cole said the jury was allowed to draw "unfair inferences."
In denying the motion, Sullins stood by previous evidentiary rulings he made during the trial. He said that the interest of justice did not necessitate a new trial in this case.
As to Cole's claim about the videos providing a second opportunity for the victims to testify, Sullins pointed out that each of the victims took the stand during trial, and they were cross-examined.
Sullins also emphasized that Cole had challenged the credibility of the victims at the outset, as well as their competency, and thus the CAP videos played at trial were properly brought in order to demonstrate consistency of the victims' claims.
No one was allowed to vouch for the credibility of the children at trial, Sullins said.
The six charges of which Jones was convicted carry a combined maximum penalty of 105 years imprisonment.