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State v. Murphy

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

January 12, 2016

STATE OF MAINE
v.
RICHARD E. MURPHY

         Argued December 8, 2015

          On the briefs: Jamesa J. Drake, Esq., Drake Law, LLC, for appellant Richard E. Murphy.

         Andrew Robinson, District Attorney, and Michael Dumas, Stud. Atty., Prosecutorial District III, Auburn, for appellee State of Maine.

         At oral argument: Jamesa J. Drake, Esq., for appellant Richard E. Murphy.

         Michael Dumas, Stud. Atty., for appellee State of Maine.

         Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and HJELM, JJ.

          OPINION

Page 402

          GORMAN, J.

          [¶1] Richard E. Murphy appeals from a judgment of conviction for domestic violence assault with prior convictions (Class C), 17-A M.R.S. § 207-A(1)(B)(1) (2015), entered in the Superior Court (Androscoggin County, MG Kennedy, J. ) after a jury trial. Murphy contends that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of domestic violence assault because the State did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he and the victim were " sexual partners," which is an element of the offense. See 17-A M.R.S. § 207-A(1)(A) (2015); 19-A M.R.S. § 4002(4) (2015). We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

          [¶2] Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, the jury could rationally have found the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt. See State v. Cote, 2015 ME 78, ¶ 2, 118 A.3d 805. On March 20, 2014, Murphy and the victim were at an apartment in Lewiston when Murphy " put her down on the floor and put his foot on her face . . . enough so it made her mouth bleed." A little over a year before this incident, a Lewiston police officer responding to a noise complaint had witnessed Murphy and the victim having consensual sexual intercourse in the basement of an apartment building. Because the victim did not cooperate in the prosecution of the crime against her, the only evidence the jury had concerning the relationship between her and the defendant was that testimony about a single sexual act.

         II. DISCUSSION

          [¶3] The question before us is whether two people can be " sexual partners" for the purpose of domestic violence assault if they have had sexual intercourse ...


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