The Second Circuit Court of Appeal has affirmed the conviction and sentence of Andre Demery for the aggravated rape of a juvenile.
Judge Parker Self Jr., of the 26th Judicial District, sentenced Demery to life in prison on June 9, 2014. Demery appealed his conviction arguing that the evidence brought forth during the trial was insufficient to convict him.
The state’s case was presented by Bossier/Webster District Attorney J. Schuyler Marvin, John M. Lawrence and C. Sherburne Sentell III.
The girl, now 14, had told some of her friends at school in 2012 she’d been having sex and that she might be pregnant. Upon hearing the rumors, the principal of the elementary school and the school’s counselor testified that they called the girl’s mother to the school to explain the situation to her. During the meeting with the victim, the victim’s mother asked her who had done these things to her and the victim named Andre Demery.
The principal then contacted the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office to arrange for the girl to be interviewed at the Gingerbread House Children’s Advocacy Center by a forensic investigator.
The victim testified at trial that Demery had sex with her at several secluded locations in Webster Parish. She further testified the information in the Gingerbread House video interview was all true.
WPSO detectives photographed and collected evidence from Demery’s vehicle and took it to the North Louisiana Crime Lab for analysis. A forensic DNA analyst with the crime lab testified that she analyzed the samples collected from Demery’s vehicle.
She stated that Demery could not be excluded as the donor of that DNA, whereas 99.9 percent of the rest of the population could be.
Demery testified and denied ever having sex with his daughter or touching her in a sexual way.
He further contended the jury was presented with multiple conflicting accounts of when the alleged rapes occurred, and the prosecutor improperly asked him questions about facts that were not in evidence and that the questions tainted the jury’s decision-making process. Demery also argued that the DNA testing of the materials taken from his vehicle demonstrated an irreconcilable conflict between the victim’s testimony and the physical evidence.
Second Circuit Court of Appeal judges James Stewart, Harmon Drew and Frances Jones Pitman ruled the standard of appellate review for a sufficiency of the evidence claim is “whether, after viewing the evidence in that light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.”
When there is conflicting testimony about factual matters, the resolution of which depends upon a determination of the credibility of the witnesses, the matter is one of the weight of the evidence, not its sufficiency.
The trier of facts makes credibility determinations and may accept or a reviewing court may not impinge on the fact finder’s discretion unless it is necessary to guarantee the fundamental due process of law.
Louisiana Revised Statute 14:41 provides in part: “A. Rape is the act of anal, oral, or vaginal sexual intercourse with a male or female person committed without the person’s lawful consent. B. Emission is not necessary, and any sexual penetration, when the rape involves vaginal or anal intercourse, however slight, is sufficient to complete the crime.”
Louisiana Revised Statute 14:42 (A)(4) defines aggravated rape as follows: “A. Aggravated rape is a rape committed…where the anal, oral, or vaginal sexual intercourse is deemed to be without lawful consent of the victim because it is committed under any one or more of the following circumstances…(4) When the victim is under the age of thirteen (13) years. Lack of knowledge of the victim’s age shall not be a defense.”
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, the state presented sufficient evidence at trial to convict Demery of the aggravated rape of the victim.