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State v. Carter

Supreme Court of Maine

October 20, 2016

STATE OF MAINE
v.
RUSSELL W. CARTER

          Argued: September 8, 2016

          Hunter J. Tzovarras, Esq., Hampden, for appellant Russell W. Carter

          R. Christopher Almy, District Attorney, and Tracy Collins, Asst. Dist. Atty., Prosecutorial District V, Bangor, for appellee State of Maine

          Hunter J. Tzovarras, Esq., for appellant Russell W. Carter

          Tracy Collins, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee State of Maine

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, [*] JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          GORMAN, J.

         [¶1] Russell W. Carter appeals from a judgment of conviction for solicitation of a child to commit a prohibited act (Class D), 17-A M.R.S. §259-A(1)(A) (2015), entered in the trial court (Penobscot County, A. Murray, J.) after a jury-waived trial. Carter challenges the courts denial of his motion to dismiss the complaint based on venue, the courts failure to apply the affirmative defense of renunciation, and the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction. We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, the following facts were established at trial. See State v. Hayden, 2014 ME 31, ¶ 12, 86 A.3d 1221. In 2014, an elementary school in Penobscot County contacted the Bangor Police Department when the school discovered that one of its students, a thirteen-year-old girl, had been communicating with adult men on her school-issued iPad. A police sergeant took over the device and began posing as the girl ("Samantha") to continue communicating with the men and to connect with other individuals. Among the men with whom the sergeant communicated through Samanthas account was Carter, a thirty-one-year-old man living in Bowdoin. Samantha identified herself multiple times to be a thirteen-year-old girl, and the picture attached to the online account was a picture of a girl who appeared to be about thirteen years old. In their conversations, Carter indicated on numerous occasions that he would like to perform sexual acts on Samantha and have her perform sexual acts on him, including intercourse and oral sex. The two exchanged hundreds of online messages in March and April of 2014, during which Carter made arrangements to meet Samantha in person to engage in sexual activity on April 6 and April 20, 2014. Carter did not show up at the appointed time and place on either date.

         [¶3] On June 16, 2014, Carter was charged with one count of solicitation of a child to commit a prohibited act (Class D), 17-A M.R.S. § 259-A(1)(A). He pleaded not guilty to the charge.

         [¶4] The court conducted a jury-waived trial on September 21, 2015. After the State rested, Carter moved to dismiss the complaint for improper venue. The court denied the motion. Carter also unsuccessfully argued to the trial court that the affirmative defense of renunciation applied. See 17-A M.R.S. § 154 (2015). By judgment dated October 30, 2015, the court found Carter guilty of the charge and imposed a suspended jail term of six months and one year of probation.[1]Carter appeals.

         II. DISCUSSION

         [¶5] Carter argues that the court erred by failing to find him not guilty based on the affirmative defense of renunciation. We review the statutory application of an affirmative defense de novo as a matter of law. State v. Graham, 2015 ME 35, ¶ 15, 113 A.3d 1102. In doing so, we interpret the relevant statute according to its plain language. See State v. Tozier,2015 ME 1 As a result of this conviction, Carter is also required to register on the States sex offender registry for ten years. 34-A M.R.S. §§ 11273(14), 11285(1) (2015). 57, ¶ 6, 115 ...


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