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Appeals court affirms molestation conviction

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A child molestation conviction will stand after the Indiana Court of Appeals on Monday rejected a defendant’s arguments that the conviction should be reversed because of a prosecutor’s references to the defendant's failure to testify and that the evidence was insufficient.

The court affirmed Dennis Feyka’s Class A felony child molestation conviction for molesting a 10-year-old girl during a sleepover his daughter was hosting.

Feyka argued the prosecutor’s comments during closing argument were fundamental error.

“We cannot say the references to Feyka’s failure to testify were fundamental error,” Judge Melissa May wrote for the unanimous panel.

Feyka also raised inconsistencies in the victim’s testimony, including evidence that the victim told an investigator that she didn’t know whether the incident was real or a dream. She testified at trial that she knew it was real.

The victim’s “testimony provided ample evidence to support Feyka’s conviction,” May wrote. “The uncorroborated testimony of the victim, even if the victim is a minor, is sufficient to sustain a conviction of child molesting, Morrison v. State, 462 N.E.2d 78, 79 (Ind. 1984), and it is within the province of the trier of fact to reject evidence to the contrary. See, e.g., Bennett v. State, 409 N.E.2d 1189, 1191 (Ind. Ct. App. 1980) (conflict between the State’s case and a defendant’s alibi is a matter to be resolved by the jury, whose decision will not be overturned on appeal if there is substantial evidence of probative value in the record to support it).”

“We must decline Feyka’s invitation to invade the province of the jury by reweighing the evidence and reassessing witness credibility,” May wrote.

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