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COA affirms sexually violent predator findings

October 28, 2008

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the finding that two defendants are sexually violent predators, ruling the state had produced sufficient evidence to support the determinations under the versions of the sexually violent predator statute used by the trial courts in each case.

In Johanna P. Williams v. State, No. 47A05-0802-CR-101 and Ronald Lynn Scott Jr. v. State, No. 82A04-0802-CR-85, Johanna Williams and Ronald Lynn Scott Jr. challenged the findings that they were sexually violent predators. The Court of Appeals mentioned its decisions in both cases in the two opinions.

Williams pleaded guilty to child molesting as a Class C felony and sexual misconduct with a minor as a Class C felony following two incidents involving her niece and a foster child in her sister's care. Scott pleaded guilty to three counts of Class B felony sexual misconduct with a minor following an incident with his niece.

Williams challenged her enhanced sentence under Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004), arguing she is entitled to the former presumptive sentencing scheme since she committed her crimes in March 2005. The Court of Appeals found the facts underlying the aggravator - that Williams was in a position of trust with her victims - wasn't established by the state. The facts underlying the aggravator weren't found by a jury nor admitted by Williams or her attorney, wrote Judge Patricia Riley. The appellate court remanded to allow the state to establish a position of trust aggravator consistent with Blakely. If the state elects not to do so, the trial court is to re-sentence Williams without any aggravators, wrote the judge.

The three-judge panel affirmed the findings Williams and Scott were sexually violent predators, ruling there was sufficient evidence to support the determination. The trial court in Williams’ case operated under the terms of the amended 2006/2007 statutes in effect at the time of her sexually violent predator and sentencing hearing, where in Scott’s case, the trial court used the 2004 statutes, wrote Judge Riley.

In both cases, Williams and Scott met the criteria to be considered sexual violent predators. Several pieces of evidence support the SVP finding against Williams, including her lack of remorse, a doctor’s diagnosis of Williams with pedophilia, alcohol abuse, personality disorder, and a brain injury, and the doctor’s testimony Williams is a sexually violent predator, wrote the judge.

As in Williams, the two doctors who evaluated Scott didn’t agree he was a sexually violent predator; however, with the one doctor’s report Scott is likely to offend again, Scott’s previous conviction for attempted child molesting, and his lack of remorse, there is enough evidence to support the SVP finding, wrote Judge Riley.
 

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